Abductee papers believed forged

Telltale incorrect birth date raises brother's suspicions

Pyongyang included the wrong birth date on the marriage and death certificates of one of the Japanese nationals it has admitted to abducting, raising suspicions that the documents are forged.

The North Korean documents, obtained by Japanese government officials during a fact-finding mission to Pyongyang last month, list Ichikawa’s birthday as Oct. 27, 1954.

But Shuichi Ichikawa was born Oct. 20, 1954, according to Kenichi Ichikawa, his 57-year-old brother.

Suspicions arose when the misprint perfectly matched a mistake made by Japan’s National Police Agency, which had incorrectly listed Ichikawa’s birthday as Oct. 27 on a document it gave to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

The wrong date was handed to Pyongyang in earlier negotiations between the Red Cross and North Korean officials.

However, the marriage and death certificates are dated 1979.

“From the beginning, I thought it was a big, fat lie,” Kenichi Ichikawa said. “Now it is obvious that North Korea forged the documents.”

Relatives of the eight Japanese nationals listed as dead by North Korea have raised questions over Pyongyang’s occasionally bizarre explanations of how the abductees died.

Members of the fact-finding mission asked North Korea to provide Shuichi Ichikawa’s marriage and death certificates upon their arrival in the secretive country, but the North Koreans did not supply the documents until the day the mission departed.

Ichikawa and Rumiko Masumoto were abducted together from Kagoshima Prefecture in August 1978. According to Pyongyang, the couple married in North Korea in April 1979.

North Korea claims Ichikawa drowned Sept. 4, 1979, after suffering a heart attack while swimming, while Masumoto died of heart disease at age 27 in 1981.