The Japanese sushi chef who worked for the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il says that he hopes to help bring Megumi Yokota, one of the few remaining abductees believed to still be alive, back to Japan. The 65 year old chef, who goes by the alias Kenji Fujimoto, is one of the few people on the planet that has been allowed to enter and leave the communist country with relative ease over the years. He made his first visit in 11 years this July to meet with the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, and his wife.
Speaking to the press earlier this week, Fujimoto said he plans to send his latest book, which tells of developments in the country around the time of his visit, along with a personal note to Kim. During his July visit, for which he was invited, Fujimoto had an interpreter reader a letter he had written during a reception that asked for the return of Yokota and any other surviving Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korea during the 1970s and 80s. Kim was said to have listened, but offered no response.
Fujimoto was originally to return to North Korea on September 1st, but says he was asked by the central Japanese government to postpone it for a week, so that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda could write a letter to Kim. That letter never materialized, and when Fujimoto traveled to Beijing the following week, he was denied a visa by North Korea, and then returned home. The belief is that Noda’s letter was called off because official talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang had resumed for the first time in four years at the very end of August.
Speaking of these government meetings, the most recent of which was held earlier this month in Mongolia, Fujimoto says the issue of the Japanese kidnappings is not something that can be solved at that level, referring to officials from each country’s foreign ministry, and must be discussed by top leaders. Fujimoto served as the personal sushi chef to Kim Jong-Il between 1989 and 2001, and has offered to be of help on the abduction issue, including meeting with Yokota’s parents.