Connect with us

Abducted: The Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea

Letters to Megumi: Children's Heartfelt Hopes Under the Cherry Blossoms

School children write about the terror of North Korea's abduction of Megumi Yokota when she was 13 and as cherry trees blossom, express hope for her homecoming.



Children's Letters to Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea when she was 13. (© Sankei by Yoshinori Saito)

Letters addressed to Megumi Yokota have reached the Sankei Shimbun from Shibiraki Elementary School in Saitama City. Megumi, now 59 years old, was abducted by North Korea when she was the age of 13. Exactly 47 years ago this season, Megumi's father, Shigeru, captured her image under the cherry blossom tree in the schoolyard. He was celebrating her start at junior high school. Sadly, he passed away in 2020 without the chance to see his daughter again.

As children nearing a similar milestone, these young letter writers keenly sense the passage of time. They rediscover the value of family and ardently yearn for Megumi's swift return home. Their letters offer an insight into the children's heartfelt emotions.

Megumi Yokota stands under the cherry blossoms in the schoolyard of her junior high school. Her father, Shigeru Yokota, took this photo about six months before she was abducted by North Korea . (© The Yokota family)

'Super Strong' Love of Megumi's Parents

By Takanori Endo, 6th Grade 

When I found out about the abduction issue in class, it scared me a lot. It made me sad, and my stomach felt all funny. I think Megumi-san's mom and dad felt the same way, with their bodies becoming weak and shaky.

But instead of giving up, they kept on going, hoping to see Megumi-san again. I think their love is super strong.

Megumi-san hasn't come back since she left home saying "See you later." As for me, I'm happy to be with my family now, but I know we shouldn't take it for granted. I hope I can help somehow to bring Megumi-san back to Japan. My message to Megumi-san's mom is, please take care. I hope you can hug Megumi-san again soon.

'I Won't Turn My Back' When Someone Needs Help 

By Soma Tada, 6th Grade

When I was in fourth grade, I learned about the abduction issue. Since then, I've realized how special it is to be with my family.


Abduction steals away the peace of innocent people. People's rights are being violated. That's not something humans should do.

You know, I think Japan needs to step up. The families keep asking for help to bring Megumi Yokota and others home. But it feels like nobody's really listening.

If someone needs help, I won't turn my back on them.

Facing the Abductions Issue: 'I Had to Do Something'

By Yuuna Suda, 6th grade

Megumi-san, what are you doing now? Are you able to live with a smile?

I first heard about the abductions issue from our principal and others. It scared me, and then I didn't feel brave enough to learn more.

But that changed when I found out that some people are really serious about this issue. They're doing things like signing petitions. That's when I knew I had to do something too.

First, I want to thank my family and friends for always being there. And then, I want to talk to them about the abductions issue. Megumi-san, many people are working hard to bring you back. I'll keep waiting for you here in Japan.


'Can't Forgive' North Korean Leaders

By Kanon Takahara, 6th Grade 

Hi, Megumi-san. Our principal talked about how the leaders of North Korea took Japanese people, like you. It's awful what happened to you and others.

I can't forgive North Korea. But, as your parents said in their video messages, I don't think everyone there is bad.

Megumi-san, you must have been so scared when you were abducted. I hope nothing like this ever happens again. Everyone who knows you is praying for you to come back home to your family soon.

Photos of Megumi Yokota as school children learn about the abduction of Megumi and other Japanese their age and a little older by North Korean agents. (2022 © Sankei)

Welcoming Your Letters

The Sankei Shimbun and JAPAN Forward invite student submissions of "Letters to Megumi." The letters are dedicated to all victims abducted by North Korea who have yet to return, including Megumi Yokota. We encourage entries from students of all ages, from elementary to university level. Submissions from school classes are also welcome.

Your submission can vary in length, but we suggest aiming for around 100 to 300 words in English, or 400 to 1000 in Japanese characters. For email submissions, send your entries to news@sankei.co.jp.

If you prefer to submit by mail, please send your entry to:

The Sankei Shimbun Editorial Department,
Social Affairs Division
Attention: "Letters to Megumi" Section
Postal Code: 100-8078, JAPAN

Please include your full name, age, grade level, and email or telephone number for contact. Elementary and junior high school students must also provide their teacher, principal, or guardian's contact information alongside their own.


Additionally, The Sankei Shimbun offers "outreach lectures" in Japan where our active reporters provide easily understandable talks on abduction issues. For inquiries about these lectures, please contact the NIE Division at the Sankei Tokyo headquarters (nie-tokyo@sankei.co.jp).

Read the series, "Letter to Megumi"


(Read this column in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun