Sakie Yokota has spent many years writing letters to her daughter, Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korean agents on her way home from school more than 40 years ago, when she was 13.
North Korea has admitted her abduction, but has not allowed her to return home or contact her family. Megumi’s father Shigeru passed away in June 2020, after giving his all to the struggle to gain his daughter’s return. With Megumi’s brothers and the other families whose children were abducted, Sakie says she will continue to do whatever she can to help bring home the children. This is her latest letter to her daughter.
Read Sakie Yokota’s earlier letters to Megumi here.
Not a day goes by without me thinking about how you might be doing. It’s early summer in Japan, and the breath of the flowers and fresh green of the trees fill the air. But the disaster of COVID-19 sweeping the world has yet to cease, and we continue to endure days of anxiety and perseverance.
A year has passed since your father was called to heaven on June 5 last year. I vowed to fight harder on his behalf, but I have been feeling increasingly anxious because of the lack of progress toward resolving the abductions.
When I look at the harshness of the world, I feel keenly that your father left this world in grace. Peace was given to him because he dedicated his life to the fight to save you and all of the abductees.
Today, I talked to the picture of your father on the altar, and his smile gave me strength. Your father never wavered in his old age or illness, and, with the support of many people, he lived his life to the fullest.
Just before your father was called to heaven, I shouted in his ear, “You’re going to heaven. People you have missed for a long time are waiting for you.” When your father heard this, his eyes twinkled with tears. I wonder how your father feels, looking at Japan now. Maybe he has already spotted you from heaven.
A year has passed since then, and there has been no progress in solving the abductions. I am getting old and increasingly weak. Sometimes I fall over and worry those around me. Because of COVID-19, I have had fewer opportunities to share my thoughts with people all over Japan.
Politicians often use the phrase “a matter of great pain.” The parents of the abduction victims, including me, who are unable to rescue their loved ones while still young and healthy, are tormented with regret and live in anguish every day. But this is nothing compared to the harshness of the life that the victims have to endure.
Recently, the younger generation of the victims’ families, including your younger brothers Takuya and Tetsuya, have been at the forefront of the rescue campaign. But I am heartbroken that this difficult battle needs to be passed on to our children. It is my earnest wish that the politicians and government officials will take to heart how cruel it is that multiple generations have to face the inhumanity of the abductions.
Is there no politician who will firmly declare — and be true to their word — that the leaders of this nation will bring the victims back for us so that we won’t need to fight anymore?
The complexity and depth of politics and diplomacy are beyond the comprehension of ordinary people like us. But, in reality, various developments surrounding North Korea have stalled, and even Japan, the country affected by the abductions, is not discussing the issue at length in the Diet.
Why is there a lack of commitment in solving such a serious issue?
Aging family members have longed to bring their children back to their homeland and embrace them while still young and healthy. And it was this wish that kept your father fighting, too.
Before the Flame of Life Goes Out
The 20 years after you disappeared in November 1977 were like a living hell. We had no clues as to where you were.
In 1997, we finally discovered that you were in North Korea. The victims’ family association was established and your father became its representative. Although he worried that he was not a good speaker, we gave speeches 1,400 times across Japan together. Your father hoped to appeal to the power of public sympathy, and the Japanese people, who cared deeply for the victims, prayed for a full resolution.
The family association now states in its campaign policy that “the deadline for a solution” is while the victims’ parents are still alive to embrace their loved ones.
Family members and those who have done everything in their power to bring the victims home are dying quickly. The abductions must be resolved once and for all before the flame of life goes out.
In April this year, when I had the opportunity of meeting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and handed him the family association’s campaign policy, I said to him, “I think this is our last chance.”
We have very little time left. The families, as well as the victims themselves, are getting older and are literally facing their final battle.
How can we make the Supreme Leader of North Korea open his heart and break this deadlock? It is up to the politicians and government officials to guide us towards the decision to return all the victims home and create a path of hope that will bring peace to Japan, North Korea, and the world. And I believe Japan has the strength to do this.
I appeal to the people of Japan: for the sake of our precious country, please consider the abductions a personal issue and push for a resolution. Please discuss this issue with family members and friends, and speak out on the need for a resolution.
As a result of the outpouring of support, five citizens returned home to Japan in 2002. This helped us to see through North Korea’s lies about the fate of the remaining victims and rekindled our hope for their return.
We are almost there. You seem almost within my reach. With my heart full of thoughts for you, I am determined to continue appealing as long as I am able.
This summer, Tokyo will host its second Olympic Games. You were born in October 1964, just before the first Tokyo Olympics. Although so much time has passed, this has given me a fortuitous sense of destiny.
Please stay strong and take care of your health. In my quiet daily prayers, I am convinced that the day of our reunion will come.
(Read this Letter to Megumi in Japanese, here.)
Learn more about the issue here, and from the following reports:
- What If It Was Me? A Fresh Look at Ways to Resolve the Abductions, Reach Out to North Korea
- Thousands Taken: Kidnappings by North Korea’s Kim Dynasty Continue for Half a Century
- [Bookmark] Megumi Yokota Film Premiere A Push for the Return of North Korean Abduction Victims
Author: Sakie Yokota