Iizuka, Ex-Head of Group of Abductees' Families, Dies at 83


Tokyo, Dec. 18 (Jiji Press)--Shigeo Iizuka, former leader of a group of families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago, died on Saturday at a hospital in Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, according to the group. He was 83.

Iizuka, whose younger sister, Yaeko Taguchi, was kidnapped in 1978 at the age of 22, raised Taguchi's first son, Koichiro, as his "own child."

Koichiro, now 44, said in a statement released on Saturday that Iizuka was unable to reunite with his sister to his great sorrow. "This outcome is cruel," he added.

Iizuka assumed the group's leadership in 2007 to succeed abductee Megumi Yokota's father, Shigeru Yokota, who died at 87 in June 2020. While working at a plant in Saitama, Iizuka continued to lead the group's activities to demand the Japanese government and others realize the return of abductees.

In 2009, Iizuka and Koichiro met with former North Korean agent Kim Hyon Hui, responsible for the Korean Air Flight 858 bombing in 1987, in Busan, South Korea, becoming the first Japanese abductee relatives to meet Kim, who is believed to have been taught Japanese by Taguchi. They met with Kim again when she visited Japan in 2010.

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Jiji Press