44 years have passed since Japanese girl’s abduction by North Korea

The Yomiuri ShimbunMonday marked 44 years since Megumi Yokota, then 13, was abducted by North Korea in 1977 in Niigata City.

On Nov. 9, ahead of the anniversary, Sakie Yokota, Megumi’s 85-year-old mother, held a press conference in Kawasaki, where she lives.

“I’m getting older, I can’t move my body like I used to, and my voice is getting hoarse,” Sakie said at the press conference. “I have an unspeakable impatience.”

Sakie showed the media a pottery pendant decorated with a red fish on a green background that Megumi made in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, the destination of a family trip when she was in the fifth grade of elementary school.

At that time, Sakie recalled, Megumi proudly said, “Doesn’t it look fancy?”

“I always remember her laughing. I wonder if Megumi is thinking about her trip to Hagi,” she said.

Sakie also showed to the media kakizome calligraphy that Megumi wrote when she was in the sixth grade of elementary school.

It has been more than one year since Sakie’s husband, Shigeru, who had also been working hard to rescue Megumi and other victims, died in June last year at the age of 87.

Sakie said that she speaks to photos of Shigeru and Megumi every morning. “I will definitely get [Megumi] back [from North Korea].

“I’m waiting with hope, but I’m getting tired. I want to tell [Megumi] as soon as possible that her father did his best [to rescue her],” Sakie said.

The Niigata prefectural government, among other entities, organized a rally to call for the return of abductees on Sunday in Niigata City.

Sakie Yokota, who took part online due to her poor physical condition, said: “I hope [Prime Minister Fumio Kishida] conveys our sincere wishes in a negotiation at Japan-North Korea talks. We want to use all our strength that is left to do our best.”

About 600 people attended the rally, including Megumi’s younger brother, Tetsuya, 53, and Hitomi Soga, 62, an abductee who returned to Japan in 2002, as well as Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, who also serves as the minister in charge of the abduction issue.

“I want my mother to see [Megumi] while she is still alive,” Tetsuya said. 

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