Father of Japanese Abductee Megumi Yokota Dies at 87

Society

Tokyo, June 5 (Jiji Press)--Shigeru Yokota, father of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese abductee to North Korea, and former leader of a group of the families of abduction victims, died of old age on Friday afternoon at a hospital in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. He was 87.

Shigeru, together with his wife, Sakie, 84, was heavily involved in activities for bringing back his daughter and other Japanese people kidnapped by North Korea.

Born in Tokushima Prefecture, western Japan, in 1932, Shigeru married Sakie when he was working at the Bank of Japan's branch in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan. Megumi, who was born in 1964, went missing while she was on her way home from her junior high school in the central Japan city of Niigata on Nov. 15, 1977, a day after Shigeru's 45th birthday. Megumi was 13 years old when she disappeared. At the time, the family was living in Niigata due to Shigeru's work for the central bank.

In 1997, after Shigeru's retirement from the BOJ, it was confirmed that Megumi had been abducted by North Korea, and the Yokotas and the families of other abduction victims established the group in March that year for the resolution of the abduction issue. Shigeru, who became the first leader of the group, launched a signature campaign with Sakie to realize the return of their daughter.

At a historic meeting in Pyongyang in September 2002 between then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the North Korean side admitted the abduction of Japanese nationals and offered an apology while claiming that Megumi had died. Shigeru broke into tears at a subsequent press conference.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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