Abductees’ kin angry at ‘lies’

Families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea expressed anger Wednesday toward the Stalinist country, saying the information provided to Japan’s investigation team is totally untrustworthy.

“Many of the reported facts are so unnatural,” said Shigeru Yokota, representative of the family members and the father of Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped in 1977 at the age of 13 and was reported to have committed suicide.

“We appreciate the efforts of the investigation team in trying to find out facts in detail in such a short period of time, but we cannot believe the outcome of the report at all,” Yokota told a packed news conference in Tokyo.

Family members raised questions about North Korea’s claim that most of the graves of those dead have been carried away by flooding, or that some died in traffic accidents and others by coal gas poisoning from stoves.

“How can we believe such odd information?” asked Toru Hasuike, the brother of Kaoru Hasuike, who was abducted in 1978 along with Yukiko Okudo. The two are confirmed alive, married, and with a son.

Hasuike criticized North Korea’s denial of witness accounts by former North Korean agents who have claimed to have seen some of the abductees after the reported dates of their deaths.

He said the family members demand further investigation by the government, including adding Japanese police to the investigation team.

Hasuike also demanded an early return to Japan for the surviving victims, saying that his brother and others who are alive probably could not tell the truth in their meeting with the Japanese officials.

“It seems they were under huge pressure to speak for North Korea,” he said. “We want them back in Japan as soon as possible.”

According to Yokota, the investigation team said Megumi was brought by her husband to a Pyongyang hospital for a mental disorder in January 1993 and was diagnosed as suffering from depression.

Megumi’s doctor told the investigators that she was so depressed she spoke and ate little, but was recovering by around March. However, after taking a walk in the hospital’s yard with a doctor on March 13, she was found to have hung herself from a pine tree with a cloth.

“North Korea always tells lies. I do not believe Megumi has died in such a manner,” said Sakie Yokota, Megumi’s mother. “I still believe she is alive somewhere and we will work hard to rescue her.”

The Yokotas showed the media a photo of her daughter shortly before her disappearance and another photo, believed to show Megumi in her 20s, that were brought back by the investigation team as evidence. A teenage girl who is claimed to be Megumi’s daughter handed her mother’s photo to the team.

“We’re not 100 percent sure, but the photo does look like Megumi,” Shigeru Yokota said. He also said he saw photos of Megumi’s daughter and felt she resembled Megumi, although he did not make the photo public.

Megumi’s North Korean husband reportedly refused to see the government investigators but was willing to meet the Yokotas. The daughter also said she wanted to meet them, he said.