Monday 18 June 2018

Mother of abducted Japanese girl thanks Donald Trump for mention in UN speech

Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea in 1977 (AP)
Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea in 1977 (AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The mother of a Japanese girl abducted by North Korea is thankful President Donald Trump mentioned her in his UN general assembly speech and hopes it could be a chance for a breakthrough.

Megumi Yokota was abducted on her way home from school after badminton practice in November 1977.

Japan's government recognises 17 of its citizens as having been abducted by North Korea, and Megumi, who was just 13 at the time, has become a symbol of a national movement to resolve the abduction issue.

"I was really surprised, but it was great, and I'm thankful to (Trump) for bringing up the issue and putting it into words in front of those representatives from around the world," her mother, Sakie Yokota, told reporters on Wednesday.

"Every word on the issue is a chance. I believe (Trump's words) had a profound significance to the issue."

Read More: ‘Unspeakable atrocities’: UN report claims North Korean prisoners subjected to torture and starvation

Mr Trump listed several accusations against North Korea in his speech on Tuesday, saying in reference to Megumi, "we know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies".

North Korea, after years of denial, acknowledged in 2002 that its agents had abducted Japanese citizens to train spies in the 1970s and 1980s and eventually returned five of them.

It said Megumi died and says others never entered North Korea, but Japan disputes that and is seeking further investigation.

Read More: Schoolgirl abducted by North Korea 34 years ago is 'still alive'

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