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Abducted: The Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea

Dear Megumi: Your Father Went to Heaven Thinking of You; I Will Carry the Campaign Through




Dearest Megumi,   


I have called out your beloved name more times than I can remember, determined to see you again, as you know. Megumi dear, this time there is something important that I need to tell you. At 2:57 P.M. on June 5, your father, who truly adored you, went to heaven.


Your father went in his own unique way. He was in a hospital bed, constantly smiling, thinking deeply about you, and remained quiet and calm until the very end. He glided seamlessly to heaven, surrounded by photographs of you, supported by an abundance of prayers, and with what appeared to be a gentle cloak of light around him.



RELATED STORY: EDITORIAL | Shigeru Yokota’s Death A Call for PM Abe to Break the Deadlock Over Abductions


Where should I start with what I want to tell you? Dearest Megumi, there is so much that I want to say. It is difficult to express in words.



Support for Rescuing the Abductees


Since your father passed away, I have received messages of support and comfort from so many people, one after another. But I have not been able to reply to everyone properly. In fact, it has been pretty hectic.



Although I don’t have time to quietly think things through, my conviction that I will definitely meet and hug you again is increasingly stronger. The presence of so many supportive people gives me courage.


Your father, who searched for you and fought for your return with all his might for 42 years, gained a strong spiritual belief right at the very end. Furthermore, as he looked toward heaven, he passed on his thoughts to me, and to your brothers Takuya and Tetsuya, before leaving this world.


Toward the end of his life, your father struggled to convert his thoughts into words. Yet his inner thoughts came across as good-natured and resolute: “I will rescue Megumi and all of the others. Justice will definitely prevail in the end.” 


We must continue as your father would have, treating every person with the same sincerity and respect. We will do whatever it takes to see that you return to step on the soil of your homeland, along with every one of the other abductees. Your mother wants to achieve the justice that your father, and the other family members who have now passed away, were unable to realize during their lifetimes. 




Politicians and Bureaucrats, It’s Time to Act


To all the people of Japan, all of the politicians and bureaucrats: imagine that the children who are awaiting rescue in a distant, foreign country are your own children. 


The world should come together and unite to once again face the inhumane national crime of North Korea’s abductions. The international community should clamp down on the regime’s cruelty, and press forward to rescue all of the abducted children.


I want the international community to respond to our desperation with concrete action, to guide North Korea’s Supreme Leader toward a complete solution and bring about world peace. All of the mothers are determined to keep the flames burning and dedicate ourselves to this mission. 



You disappeared on November 15, 1977. After 20 hellish years with no information about what had happened to you, we learned in 1997 that you had been abducted by North Korea. It was at that time that the relatives of abduction victims across Japan gathered together and formed a family support group. Your father was called upon to be the leader, and he then spearheaded the campaign to rescue you and the other abductees.


Your father was just an ordinary person, such as can be found everywhere, but he was able to withstand extreme pressure. Believing it could be a key to finding and rescuing you, he took a risk and decided to reveal your real name. As the leader of the family support group, he demonstrated his determination to find a solution to North Korea’s abductions of Japanese, including to the Japanese government at times. He traveled around Japan giving lectures and collecting signatures at a pace that exceeded his own physical strength, sustained only by his inspirational vigor.



Determined to the End


Your father became ill and was hospitalized in April 2018. We saw this period of hospitalization as a chance for him to rest, granted by heaven. It was a new chapter in the daily battle, which we hoped would lead to a reunion with you, dear Megumi, while he was recovering.



Never looking backwards, your father didn’t complain of pain or agony. He was always smiling at the hospital staff in appreciation of their support, and lived by cherishing every single moment. He applied himself to rehabilitation with his usual determined manner. 


In 2020, as his condition gradually deteriorated, a new type of coronavirus spread and I spent every day feeling very worried. “Are we going to lose our lives and our hopes as a result of the tragedy of this disease?”


Because of the coronavirus, I could not visit the hospital even to provide a comforting touch. I sent letters to the hospital with sketches of roses blooming on our balcony at home. The hospital staff read the letters to your father, next to his ear.


On the day your father passed away, Takuya, Tetsuya, their families, and your father’s younger siblings, rushed to the hospital. As the time approached, a hospital staff member encouraged us to call out your father’s name in a loud voice. It seemed to be the way to extend his time with us, even though only for a few moments.



As I looked at your father’s peaceful face, which showed a few tears, I told him with all my strength, “You fought so hard, right until the very end. Now, rest assured. You will go to heaven. Wait for me, we will meet again.” 



We Will Continue Our Efforts


In February this year, Kayoko Arimoto, Keiko Arimoto’s mother, passed away in Kobe at the age of 94. Keiko’s father Akihiro is 92 now. As we elderly parents become limited in our ability to work on the campaign to bring home the abductees, all we can really do is appeal to the world. 


The four inevitables in life are birth, aging, sickness, and death. All lives face the difficulties of living in an equal manner. Life is limited. Our family does not understand complicated international affairs, but as we are challenged by the darkness of the coronavirus and the world faces an uncertain future, I sense an uneasy mood of disquiet. 



As we grow older, we realize there is really little time left for the family members of abductees. I pray the day will arrive soon when there will be great joy and justice for us. 


Megumi, I’m so sorry for making you endure such pain and wait so long to be rescued. I’m sure your father is watching you from heaven right now. I am starting a new chapter without your father, while strongly believing that the day will come when we will meet and hug each other again.


(Read the original article here in Japanese.)




Author: Sakie Yokota


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