A visiting U.N. commission investigating human rights violations in North Korea held a public hearing Thursday where relatives of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang’s agents in the 1970s and 1980s shared their experiences.
“I couldn’t comprehend what had happened. Megumi disappeared like smoke,” Sakie Yokota told the commission of the time when her daughter was abducted in 1977 at age 13. “We’ve been trying to rescue her in the belief that she is still alive.”
Among the other participants at the hearing, which was sponsored by the Commission of Inquiry, established in March by the U.N. Human Rights Council, were Megumi Yokota’s father, Shigeru; Shigeo Iizuka, whose sister, Yaeko Taguchi, was abducted in 1978 at age 22; and Kayoko Arimoto, whose daughter, Keiko, was abducted in 1983 at age 23.
“Only the North Korean authorities know how many people were actually abducted,” Iizuka said. “I want new steps to be taken, such as (the commission) subjecting North Korea to compulsory investigations.”
The hearing was scheduled to continue Friday, after which the three-member panel, headed by retired Australian Judge Michael Kirby, will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the afternoon. They are scheduled to leave Japan on Sunday.
At the outset, Kirby said North Korea had not replied to the commission’s inquiry on whether it would send a delegate to the hearing.