Takeshi Terakoshi arrived Friday for a visit to his hometown in Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast for the first time since he disappeared while fishing in the Sea of Japan 39 years ago.
At Komatsu airport in Ishikawa Prefecture, Terakoshi, 53, was greeted by Ishikawa Prefectural Government officials and received flowers, and then was driven in a car led by a police car to the prefectural government’s office to meet Gov. Masanori Tanimoto.
He then visited the Kanazawa City Hall to meet Mayor Tamotsu Yamade. On both occasions, Terakoshi thanked them for supporting his 71-year-old mother Tomoe.
“It would take a long time if I tell you how I grew up and lived in the last 40 years,” he was quoted as telling them. He also said he plans to visit Japan more frequently and wants to improve relations between North Korea and Japan.
He is staying at his mother’s home here. He will visit his ancestors’ graves and attend a welcome party in his birthplace of Hakui on Monday.
During his stay in the prefecture, local police will provide Terakoshi and his mother with special security guards in the light of the current delicate relationship between Japan and North Korea.
Earlier in the day, Terakoshi visited the Tokyo headquarters of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) with his mother.
Terakoshi, then a second-year student at a local junior high school, went missing in May 1963 with his two uncles.
Now a resident of Pyongyang, Terakoshi is vice chairman of a labor union. He arrived in Japan on Thursday as a member of a union delegation and is to leave via Tokyo on Oct. 12.
His parents learned their son was alive in 1987 from a letter they received from one of his uncles in the North.
They visited him in Pyongyang that year, seeing him for the first time in 24 years.
In 1997, Terakoshi said through North Korean media that the boat on which he and his uncles were fishing had been wrecked at sea and a North Korean fishing boat rescued them.