Shigeru Yokota, a Japanese campaigner for your return of his daughter and over a dozen individuals that were abducted to North Korea in the 1970s, has died. He was 87.
His family said Yokota died of natural causes inside a hospital in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, on Friday, before he managed to meet his daughter again.
He passed before seeing Megumi again, though “My husband and I did our best together. Now I’m at a loss,” his wife Sakie, 84, said in the statement.
Megumi disappeared in 1977 on her way home from her a junior secondary school in Niigata on Japan’s northern coast when she was 13. It was actually your day after she gave her father a comb like 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 located out twenty years later that she had been abducted to North Korea by its agents.
In 1997, Yokota founded a team with many other abduction victims’ families and headed it to get a decade. The smiling and soft-spoken Yokota became the face of your campaign that eventually gained government backing.
The Yokotas had traveled around Japan carrying their daughter’s photos. A photo of any innocent-looking teenager in the school uniform was a rallying cry for cause.
After many years of denial, North Korea in 2002 acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese. Japan maintains that the North abducted at least 17 individuals to train agents in Japanese culture and language to spy on rival South Korea.
Five in the abductees were capable to return home for any visit later that year and possess since stayed. North Korea says eight others, including Megumi, had denies and died that this other four entered its territory. Their families and also the Japanese government disagree.
North Korea sent samples of what it really said were Megumi’s ashes but DNA examination through the Japanese government showed these were not hers and were together with non-human remains.
Megumi was not there, although in 2014, the Yokotas traveled to Mongolia to meet a daughter Megumi gave birth to in North Korea.
North and Japan Korea have zero diplomatic ties, and efforts to settle the abductions have since largely stalled. Many elderly relatives say they’re not having enough time and energy to see their family.
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 loaded with regret and sadness that people haven’t had the opportunity to create (Megumi) back,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Friday. He renewed his pledge to create the abductees home.