Pyongyang’s account of dead abductees

The following is the information Pyongyang handed a government mission to North Korea concerning the eight Japanese nationals abducted and listed as dead by the Stalinist state.

* Megumi Yokota, 13, a junior high school student in Niigata Prefecture, was abducted by North Korean agents on her way home on Nov. 15, 1977. She was apparently abducted because she saw the agents, who panicked and kidnapped her so she wouldn’t tell anyone of their existence.

The agents were punished by upon their return for abducting the teen without instructions from a superior.

After being taken to North Korea, Yokota lived for a while with Hitomi Soga, one of the abductees confirmed as alive. Yokota studied the North Korean language until July 1986 and married a North Korean man on Aug. 13, 1986.

Yokota later developed depression and was admitted to a mental ward, where she hanged herself.

* Kaoru Matsuki, a student staying in Spain, was approached around 1980 by North Korean agents who asked him and Toru Ishioka, another Japanese national on the list of abductees, to come to Pyongyang. Both men consented and were later held in the capital.

Matsuki worked as a Japanese language instructor at an espionage training facility.

He and his driver died in a car accident in a rural area on Aug. 23, 1996. Matsuki’s remains are in a graveyard in Pyongyang. He never married.

* Keiko Arimoto, 23, a college graduate from Kobe was abducted to North Korea on July 15, 1983. She agreed to go to Pyongyang for a short stint after being approached by North Korean agents, and was later held there.

A year after her arrival, she began teaching the Japanese language at the same espionage training facility as Matsuki and Ishioka.

Arimoto married Ishioka on Dec. 27, 1985, and gave birth to a baby girl the following year. The family of three died of carbon monoxide poisoning at a guest facility in November 1988 due to a heating-system malfunction.

They were buried together, but their graves were washed away in a massive flood and landslide between Aug. 17 and Aug. 18, 1995.

* Toru Ishioka departed for North Korea from Spain around 1980, accompanied by Matsuki. It is unclear whether Japanese Red Army Faction radicals who have lived in North Korea since hijacking a Japan Airlines flight in 1970 were involved in bringing the two men to Pyongyang.

Ishioka began teaching the Japanese language at the espionage training facility around 1984.

* Rumiko Masumoto, a 24-year-old office clerk, and public corporation employee Shuichi Ichikawa, 23, were abducted to Pyongyang from a campsite at Fukiage beach in Kagoshima Prefecture on Aug. 12, 1978, by special agents rounding up potential Japanese language instructors.

Upon their arrival in Pyongyang, the couple were taught the North Korean language at a guest facility. They married on April 20, 1979.

Ishioka began teaching the Japanese language at the espionage training facility around 1984.

*On Sept. 4, 1979, Ichikawa suffered a heart attack while swimming and drowned. Masumoto died of heart disease on Aug. 17, 1981. They did not have any children.

In 1995, their graves were washed away when a dam reservoir collapsed. No remains or personal belongings exist.

Japan’s claim that Ichikawa was seen teaching Japanese at a North Korean university in 1994 are unfounded.

Ishioka began teaching the Japanese language at the espionage training facility around 1984.

* Yaeko Taguchi, 22, was abducted from a beach in the city of Miyazaki on June 29, 1978.

She told her agent abductors, who were looking to kidnap someone whose identity could be used for espionage activities, that she “would like to visit North Korea as a tourist if it was only for about three days or so.” North Korean agent Sin Guang Ju was not involved.

Upon her arrival in North Korea, Taguchi was taught the North Korean language.

On Oct. 19, 1984, she married Tadaaki Hara. Her husband died on July 19, 1986, traumatizing Taguchi. She died 11 days later in a car accident. The couple had no children.

Taguchi was buried in the same site as her husband. Her grave was washed away when a dam broke after heavy rain in July 1995.

North Korea has documentation of the accident that killed Taguchi, and once a legal framework is in place, relevant documents and statements can be provided.

A Japanese woman thought to be Taguchi and living under the name Li Un Hye never existed.

* Tadaaki Hara, 43, sought to go overseas for medical treatment and to make a fortune. North Korean agents made a deal with Hara, paying him 1 million yen for the right to use his citizen registry and allowing him to enter the Stalinist state.

On June 17, 1980, Hara was picked up by agents from a beach in Miyazaki.

Hara learned the North Korean language at a guest facility.

Hara died of cirrhosis of the liver less than two years after marrying Taguchi. His grave was washed away in the same flood that removed all traces of his wife. No remains exist.

Information regarding the role played by North Korean agent Sin Guang Ju will be provided after a legal framework is in place.