New information from multiple sources contradicts North Korea’s claim that abductee Shuichi Ichikawa died in 1979, according to a victims’ support group.
Pyongyang alleges that Ichikawa, who was kidnapped by its agents in 1978, died the following year. However, the newly acquired information shows that he taught Japanese to North Korean spies until 1996, the support group said at a gathering Thursday in Tokyo.
The National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea said it has obtained a copy of a letter faxed to a South Korean broadcast station in 2008 by a man claiming to be a defector from the North.
The letter states that Ichikawa taught Japanese to North Korean spies from 1982 to around 1986 at Kim Jong Il Political Military University in Pyongyang.
Between 1986 and 1996, he worked as a lecturer on Japanese at the same university and at a residential training facility for espionage activities, according to the letter.
A separate source confirmed part of the information, saying that the university employed a lecturer who resembled Ichikawa between 1983 and 1986, the association said, adding that another source claimed Ichikawa served as a lecturer on Japanese until 1996.
Given these reports, “it can be said for sure that Ichikawa was alive as recently as 1996,” the association’s chairman, Tsutomu Nishioka, said.
In August 1978, Ichikawa, 23, was snatched from a beach in Kagoshima Prefecture along with his 24-year-old girlfriend, Rumiko Masumoto.
“The government has not made enough efforts to gather information” about their abductions, Masumoto’s brother, Teruaki, stressed.
He also told the gathering in Tokyo that freed abductee Yukiko Hasuike recently sent him a letter stating that she lived with Masumoto until around October 1979. Hasuike returned to Japan in 2002 after being held for decades by North Korea.
Pyongyang claims Ichikawa and Masumoto married in July 1979, but Hasuike’s account suggests she was still single at that time.