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Abducted: The Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea

EDITORIAL | Remain Outraged at Megumi Yokota's Abduction by North Korea 46 Years On

The 13-year-old Megumi was taken away to North Korea on a spy ship. It is shameful that her abduction is ongoing and North Korea has not sent her home.



Niigata Elementary School students are shown here on November 14 singing a song written by Megumi Yokota's mother, Sakie, which speaks of her wish for Megumi's return to Japan. (© Sankei by Kenichi Honda)

On November 15, 1977, Megumi Yokota, a female first-year junior high school student in Niigata City, was abducted by North Korean agents on her way home after badminton team practice. 

The innocent 13-year-old was taken away to North Korea on a spy ship. She has never been reunited with her family. 

It has been 46 years since that fateful day. Just imagine how long, painful, and cruel those years must have seemed to the innocent people who had their lives turned upside down on that fall day so long ago. 

Takuya Yokota, Megumi's younger brother, gives a lecture while showing a photo of Megumi on November 17 at Tsurukawa Junior High School, Machida City, Tokyo (© Sankei by Hisayuki Keida)

How and Why?

At the Japan-North Korea Summit in September 2002, then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il acknowledged the abductions. He apologized, and as a result, five victims, including Kaoru Hasuike, were returned to Japan. 

However, Megumi and the remaining known abductions victims were unilaterally declared "dead" by the North Korean government. The explanation offered by Pyongyang changed two or three times. 

Then, in 2004, North Korea sent "remains" to Japan, claiming they were Megumi's. But DNA testing revealed that they belonged to an entirely different person. Just imagine how much each of these unreasonable developments must have hurt the family that anxiously awaited the return of their daughter. 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke about this on November 15, 2023, the anniversary of Megumi's abduction. He acknowledged, "It is a source of great regret that so many abductees are still left behind. And I am very sorry about that." 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida answers questions from reporters on the 46th anniversary of the abduction of Megumi Yokota. November 15, at the Prime Minister's Office (© Sankei by Ataru Haruna)

He went on, "It makes me again feel strongly that we must strive decisively to bring the abductees home as soon as possible."

As for his own stated desire for a Japan-North Korea summit meeting, Kishida said: "Due to the nature of the matter, I will refrain from getting into specifics."

A Mother's Letters of Frustration

Megumi's mother, Sakie, has been writing a series of letters to her daughter. They are carried in The Sankei Shimbun in a series titled "Letters to Megumi." In the letter published on the same day as Kishida's remarks, Sakie wrote: "Looking at the recent moves of the Japanese government, I wonder if they really have the will to solve this problem. All I feel is anxiety and distrust." 

Sakie Yokota holds a press conference ahead of the 46th anniversary of Megumi's abduction by North Korea. On November 7, in Kawasaki. (© Sankei by Yoshinori Saito)

She also made an appeal to the Japanese people: "I ask every Japanese to please think again of the victims still held captive by North Korea and speak out! Please consider the abduction issue as being 'my business.' And please push the Japanese government to take action to find a solution to the issue."

Megumi's father Shigeru, who served as the head of the Association of Families of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea for many years, passed away in 2020. Sakie herself is now 87 years old. 


In her series, she has written: "I have gotten old and have reached the point of exhaustion. But I still vow not to give up, never to give in, to persevere and continue to convey my thoughts. I can never accept defeat until I am reunited with Megumi!"

We want to respond to this mother's wish with "our own" strong anger regarding this ongoing abductions case.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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