Tomodachi Spring 2014


When a Loved One Disappears

Missing: Japanese Abducted by North Korea

Megumi Yokota poses in front of her home amid a backdrop of snow. The picture, taken by her father. Shigeru, to commemorate his daughter entering middle school, depicts the beginning of a bright future for the young woman. Megumi was abducted in 1977.

 Imagine that, many years ago, a daughter was born to your family. As the newborn baby gave her first cry, you pledged to bring her up to be a fine person. She grew before your eyes, thriving on your love and attention. She pulled herself upright and took her first steps. She called you “Mama” and “Papa.”
 You took delight in recording her growth and happy family times with your camera. She went to elementary school and then started middle school. You took a picture of her, now a big girl, in her school uniform and another of her in a bright red kimono, adding these to the treasured memories in your photographic record.
 But then tragedy struck. One evening, she didn’t come home from school. She had disappeared without a trace. Day after day, you searched for her. Where could she have gone, and why? Did she think that you had been too strict with her? Had she been in an accident? However you looked, wherever you turned, there was no sign of your precious daughter. The days turned into weeks, weeks into months . . . For almost twenty years, your life was consumed by this endless search.
 One day, at long last, news of your daughter arrived. You learned that she was among the Japanese abducted by North Korea. Eventually the North Korean government admitted the abduction. It said she had died. But the official records it provided appeared to include forgeries and altered documents, and DNA testing revealed that the remains it returned were those of someone else. She’s still alive, you thought. She must be! Another decade has passed, but you have never lost hope of being reunited with her.
 This is a true story, the story of Megumi Yokota, born in 1964 and abducted in 1977. And sadly, it is far from the only such story. The Japanese government has identified seventeen cases, including Megumi’s, of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. The families of the remaining abductees and numerous other missing people who may have been abducted are continuing their campaign to bring their loved ones home. The Japanese government is firmly determined to secure the return of all these people and is still working to accomplish this.
 Japanese nationals are not the only victims. Other known cases of possible abduction by North Korea involve people from Thailand, Romania, and Lebanon, and there have been reports of abductions from China and other countries as well. North Korea’s abductions are an issue not just for Japan but also for the world.

Animation Film Megumi

“Megumi” is a 25-minute animated documentary portraying the struggles of first-year middle school student Megumi Yokota’s family and their efforts to rescue her after North Korean agents abducted her in 1977 while she was on her way home from school.

Abductions of Japanese Citizens by North Korea