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WorldMegumi Yokota: Will this Japanese schoolgirl abducted on her way home ever be found?

23:35  24 may  2019
23:35  24 may  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Megumi never made it home from school in 1977. Her family thought she'd been kidnapped for (Supplied: Yokota family). But as they age, their chances of ever being reunited with their daughter "He has in a way marginalised or isolated Japan by emphasising the fate of the abductees over

Megumi Yokota was abducted on her way home from school after badminton practice in November 1977. Japan 's government recognizes 17 of its citizens as abductees by North Korea, and Megumi , who was just 13 at the time, has become a symbol of a national movement to resolve the abduction

Megumi Yokota: Will this Japanese schoolgirl abducted on her way home ever be found?© Provided by ABC News Japanese police launched a huge search to find Megumi in 1977, but she vanished without a trace. Megumi Yokota was just 13 when she was disappeared without a trace while walking home from school in her seaside village in central Japan.

It was a seven-minute walk from the badminton courts where she had spent the afternoon, but Megumi never made it to the house.

Megumi Yokota: Will this Japanese schoolgirl abducted on her way home ever be found?
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Her brother Takuya remembers that day in 1977 well.

"Our house was near the Sea of Japan and the rumbling of the sea was loud, the sky was completely dark and it was scary for children, it was this really dark image," he said.

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The parents of a Japanese girl abducted by North Korea in the 1970s meet their granddaughter for the first time. Shigeru and Sakie Yokota have not seen their daughter since she disappeared, but they met her North Korean-born daughter in Mongolia last week.

A documentary about the 13-years old Megumi who was abducted by North Korean spies in 1977 -- told through the eyes of her parents as they go on a 30-year journey for the truth behind their missing daughter. Cast: Teruaki Masumoto Yokota family. Director: Patty Kim Chris Sheridan.

When Megumi failed to return, her mother went to the school, but badminton practice was over and nobody was there.

"We searched for her in the dark with a flashlight in an abandoned hotel and forests, but there was no trace of her. That's how our 41 years of suffering started."

Police were called and they launched a full investigation, but a sniffer dog lost track of her scent at a street corner just 100 metres from her family home.

"She was so curious and energetic … my brother and I always thought of her as a sunflower as she was such a bright girl," Tayuka said.

"When she suddenly disappeared, it became very dark in the family and there was no more conversation. We felt very depressed every day."

Police thought she may have been kidnapped for ransom, but no demand for money ever came.

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The parents of a Megumi Yokota , a Japanese girl abducted by North Korea in 1977, describe their first Image caption Shigeru and Sakie Yokota have campaigned for years to find out what happened to Megumi Yokota was kidnapped by North Korean agents on her way home from school in 1977

Megumi is an anime produced to inform people about the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. Megumi Yokota was abducted by North Korean agents in 1977. At the time, Megumi was 13 years old and in the first year of junior high school ; she was abducted on her way home from school .

The Yokota family did interviews on national TV holding up photos of their daughter for the cameras, but no one had any information.

Megumi had seemingly vanished into thin air.

It would be two agonising decades before her family found out what had happened.

In 1997, a Japanese government official rang the Yokotas to inform them that their daughter had been kidnapped by North Korean agents.

A former North Korean spy who had escaped to South Korea had reportedly spoken of a young Japanese teen who had been snatched while walking down a coastal road and bundled onto a waiting boat.

Suddenly, hope returned to the Yokota household.

Megumi's strange new life in North Korea

It is believed Megumi was forced to help train North Korean spies pass as Japanese citizens.

She is one of at least 17 Japanese citizens who were randomly abducted by agents from the North throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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Megumi , then 13, had disappeared on her way home from school on a cold November day 40 Takuya Yokota shows a picture of his sister Megumi Yokota , a Japanese national abducted by None of them has ever seen her again, one of scores Japan believes were snatched away in the

Abducted from her hometown at the age of 13, a young Japanese girl named Megumi Yokota is forced to live in captivity in North Korea for at least two decades, while her family and friends have no knowledge of her whereabouts.

She became the face of the tragic abductions — an issue that still passionately resonates among Japanese people to this day.

Five of the abductees have since returned to Japan, but the fate of Megumi and 11 others is unknown.

At the first ever summit between Japan and North Korea in 2002, then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted to the practice of abductions.

But Pyongyang has claimed that Megumi Yokota took her own life in 1994.

Her family refuses to accept that.

"We couldn't believe it at all. My sister was not the type who would take her own life," her brother Takaya said.

The North returned ashes that were supposedly Megumi's, but DNA tests in Japan proved otherwise.

"The DNA test in Japan found out that it was bones from a completely different person. We knew it was a manoeuvre by North Korea," Takaya said.

"This wasn't just abduction. North Korea took someone else's bones and [committed] a double crime."

It has been confirmed that Megumi married a fellow abductee from South Korea and in 1987 the couple had a daughter, Kim Eun Gyong.

Megumi's parents Sakie and Shigeru met their granddaughter in Mongolia in 2014.

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Takuya Yokota , a younger brother of abductee Megumi Yokota , poses Pyongyang has admitted to abducting 13 but says eight of them, including Megumi , taken as she walked home from school But Yokota is not worried about Abe softening on the issue and thinks that, with Trump in office, bringing

In 1977, Ms. Megumi Yokota , a 13-year-old girl , disappeared on her way home from school . It was revealed later on that she was abducted by North Korea. This film features the anguish of Megumi 's family and their desperate effort to bring her back home

They said at the time the meeting her was "like a miracle".

But they did not talk about Megumi's supposed death as they did not want to discuss difficult political issues.

Sakie and Shigeru Yokota have been tireless campaigners for the plight of the abductees.

They have travelled to more than 1,400 events, gathering more than almost 13 million signatures to try to save their daughter and the other victims.

But as they age, their chances of ever being reunited with their daughter diminish by the day.

"My father has been hospitalised since April last year. He's 86 years old and we're at a critical moment as to whether my father would be able to see Megumi," Takuya said.

"Our parents' generation is running out of time and North Korea should immediately stop its human rights violations and hostage diplomacy."

Yokotas hope for breakthrough during Trump visit

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made resolving the abduction issue a keystone of his political career, but he has yet to set up talks with Kim Jong-un.

Until this month, he refused to consider meeting the North Korean leader without the promise of significant progress on the kidnappings.

Now he is prepared to meet unconditionally.

Professor Jeff Kingston from Japan's Temple University believes this shift marks the right approach.

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"There's really little that Japan can do about the situation on the North Korean peninsula, however Mr Abe has not really put Japan at the negotiating table," he said.

"He has in a way marginalised or isolated Japan by emphasising the fate of the abductees over denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula."

So far, Kim Jong-un has given no indication that he is willing to meet Shinzo Abe.

But the families of abductees are hoping US President Donald Trump may be able to open doors and potentially pave the way to progress on this traumatising issue.

When Mr Trump visits Tokyo this weekend, he will again meet the families of abductees.

The Japanese Government is sparing no expense to please the US President during this visit.

He will be the first foreign leader to meet the country's new emperor.

He will have ringside seats and present a cup at the Summer Grand Sumo tournament, and will make a trip to the country's biggest warship as part of this state visit.

On Monday, the pair will hold a summit and are expected to discuss North Korea as well as China's economic and military rise.

While substantive policies may not arise from this summit alone, it will lay the groundwork for major progress on both trade and North Korea in the future.

Takuya Yokota will be watching the summit closely as he fights for his sister's freedom.

"I think she imagined many things in her life: going to high school, going to university, what job she wanted to do, getting married and having a child," he said.

"Those dreams and wishes were deprived against her will in a violent way."

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