Shigeru Yokota, a Japanese campaigner for the return of his daughter and over twelve other people who were abducted to North Korea within the 1970s, has died. He was 87.
His family said Yokota died of natural causes in the hospital in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, on Friday, before he was able to meet his daughter again.
He passed before seeing Megumi again, though “My husband and I did our best together. Now I’m confused,” his wife Sakie, 84, said within a statement.
Megumi disappeared in 1977 on the way home from her a junior high school graduation in Niigata on Japan’s northern coast when she was 13. It had been the morning after she gave her father a comb as being a birthday gift, a memento he always carried with him.
A former Central Bank official, Yokota, and his awesome wife kept searching for Megumi and discovered out 2 decades later that she was abducted to North Korea by its agents.
In 1997, Yokota founded a team with other abduction victims’ families and headed it for any decade. The smiling and soft-spoken Yokota took over as the face from the campaign that eventually gained government backing.
The Yokotas had traveled around Japan carrying their daughter’s photos. A picture of your innocent-looking teenager in the school uniform became a rallying cry with regard to their cause.
After many years of denial, North Korea in 2002 acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese. Japan maintains how the North abducted a minimum of 17 people to train agents in Japanese language and culture to spy on rival South Korea.
Five of the abductees were capable to return home for any visit later that year and have since stayed. North Korea says eight others, including Megumi, had denies and died that the other four entered its territory. Their families along with the Japanese government disagree.
North Korea sent samples of what it really said were Megumi’s ashes but DNA examination from the Japanese government showed these folks were not hers and were combined with non-human remains.
In 2014, the Yokotas traveled to Mongolia to meet a daughter Megumi gave birth to in North Korea, but Megumi was not there.
North and Japan Korea have zero diplomatic ties, and efforts to solve the abductions have since largely stalled. Many elderly relatives say they’re not having enough time for you to see their family and friends.
He continued to make public appearances though did not speak in public for the last four years, although yokota stepped down as the group’s leader in 2007 due to declining health.
“I’m filled with regret and sadness that people haven’t managed to take (Megumi) back,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Friday. He renewed his pledge to take the abductees home.