The parents of a Japanese girl who vanished in 1977 – apparently abducted by the communist regime in North Korea – spoke Thursday to a United Nations special commission looking into the hermit nation’s alleged human rights abuses about the emotions and anguish they experienced for over 20 years before learning that their daughter had been kidnapped. Megumi Yokota was 13 when she disappeared on her way home from school.
It was only in 1997 that it started becoming clear that Megumi may have been taken by Pyongyang’s agents, forced to train as a spy to infiltrate Japanese society. “We lived in a sadness that I thought would drive us mad,” 77-year-old Sakie Yokota, mother of Megumi, told the UN commission. With immense international pressure, North Korea finally admitted to the charges of abductions, saying that they took 13 Japanese nationals, including Megumi. The emotional blast to the parents was when Pyongyang announced that Megumi committed suicide on March 13, 1994.
The Yokotas challenged this claim and asked North Korea for proof that she was dead. North Korea sent back cremated remains, and comparative DNA tests conducted in Japan proved that the remains were from two different people, neither of whom were Megumi. “Three photos came back with the bones, our first sight of Megumi as an adult,” Sakie Yokota told the investigators. “I cried and cried,” the mother recalled. Sakie said that Megumi would turn 49 in October. The UN commission head Michael Kirby, a retired Australian judge, told reporters that the end goal of the inquiry was a report that will be submitted by the end of the year, giving voices to the Yokotas and families with similar experiences.
[via The Province]