Nearing their 80s and still not knowing the fate of their daughter, Megumi, who was abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota wanted to make sure their thoughts were heard one last time.
In their latest book, “Megumi e no Yuigon,” (Last word to Megumi), written by Kenji Ishidaka and published by Gentosha Inc., the Yokotas speak about their daughter and reveal their feelings toward North Korea.
Shigeru, 79, said in an interview that he does not agree with the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea, which said Japan should tighten sanctions against the reclusive country.
“We have got an opportunity to negotiate (with North Korea) now that (former leader) Kim Jong Il is gone,” he said. “Strengthening sanctions could be taken as a sign that Japan is not interested in negotiating.”
Megumi went missing in November 1977 on her way home from school. She was 13 years old.
North Korea admitted abducting Japanese citizens, including Megumi, in September 2002, and returned five Japanese and their families in October the same year, but her parents still have no idea where their daughter is.
“Yuigon” (last word) in the book's title reflects the couple’s poignant thoughts, said Ishidaka, 61, a former producer at Asahi Broadcasting Corp., who interviewed the couple and wrote the book.
“I understood they were feeling that their time is limited and they cannot do many things,” he said.
In the interview with The Asahi Shimbun, the couple took a critical look at Japanese politicians.
Looking back on the retirement of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who put great effort into the abduction issue, in 2007 after one year in office, Sakie, 76, said, “Granted that he was ill, I felt as if I had been stabbed with a knife, hearing the news.”
She also said she was often asked to pose for photos with prefectural and municipal assembly members when she gave talks in various cities and towns, which she did not like.
“Maybe they wanted a picture for election campaigns, but I hated it; photo sessions make me feel miserable,” she said.
It has been 35 years since Megumi was kidnapped.
“The central government may think that we will get older and it will become difficult for us to act freely--and the issue of abduction will be gradually forgotten,” Sakie said, in frustration.
“Leaving the abduction problem, a violation of human rights, unsolved means that the government is not performing its task of protecting people’s lives and property,” he said.
He wanted the government to move forward on resolving the abduction issue, he said.
Sakie hopes Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will take action.
“I hope Prime Minister Noda will send a message directly to (First Secretary) Kim Jong Un, who succeeded Kim Jong Il, that they can jointly build peace,” she said.
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