The Sankei Shimbun has begun publishing the series “Letters to Megumi,” written by parents Shigeru and Sakie Yokota to their daughter who is held captive in North Korea.
“Mom was so terribly lonely. She tried to shake her loneliness by immersing herself in efforts to bring the abductees home,” Megumi’s parents write in their first letter.
The letters are impassioned, and we hope that everyone in the government, the Diet, and throughout Japan will read them—and be moved to do something about the situation.
In the letter dated April 9th, Megumi’s parents recall taking Megumi’s picture as she stood beneath a cherry tree. In the picture, the cherry trees are in full bloom and the young girl appears bashful.
Megumi had been ill and unable to attend the entrance ceremony for her middle school. When she had recovered, her parents took her out for a commemorative picture even though she had missed the actual event. Megumi was embarrassed by this and didn’t want to go.
In the winter of that year, Megumi would be abducted by agents from North Korea. It has been forty years, and the longed-for reunion between parents and child has yet to happen.
“If there is ever an incident with North Korea and it spirals out of control,” the Yokotas write, “then everyone in Japan may be wiped out in an instant. Would the Japanese government be able to protect the Japanese people if something were to happen on the Korean peninsula? There is an existential threat to the nation just across the Sea of Japan, but do politicians really take that threat seriously? Do politicians really have at heart the best interests of the country, the people, and the children who were abducted by North Korea?”
They continue: “The abductees live in a country where one false move can get one murdered. The abductees cannot cry out for help. They are our children, and all they can do is keep silent and wait to be rescued. Megumi, your Mom and Dad hope against hope that Japan will act—now—to reach out to you and save you from your captives.”
There are few, we believe, who will get to read the heartfelt pleas of Megumi’s mother and father and remain unmoved. But has the country of Japan responded to their pleas as it should have? Do the people of Japan share the Yokotas’ heartache and hope?
In 2002, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted to the abductions and issued an apology for them. Thereafter, Kaoru Hasuike and four other abductees were able to return home to Japan. However, the only information given about Megumi was that she was “deceased.” This pronouncement was followed by the provision of a set of bones which the North Koreans claimed were Megumi’s remains, but which scientific testing proved definitively to be the bones of animals.
According to the terms of the May 2014 Stockholm Agreement, North Korea promised to conduct a renewed investigation into the abductions. As of February 2016, the North Koreans had done precisely nothing to keep this promise. Instead, they unilaterally announced the dissolution of the special investigative committee supposed to be looking into the issue. From that point on, North Korea has engaged in one reckless act after another, moving wildly from missile launches to nuclear experiments and back again.
Megumi is now 52 years old. Her father, Shigeru, is 84, and her mother, Sakie, is 81. It is unforgivable that this family—parents and child—should be forced to endure one more moment of the cruelty that has already stretched on for forty years. Read the Yokotas’ letters, and make their resolve your resolve, too, to end the abduction issue and bring the abductees home.
(Click here to read the original in Japanese)