The parents of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese abductee North Korea claims died in 1993, said they are caught between grief over the news of her death and joy at discovering she reportedly had a daughter.
DNA tests are being conducted to determine the veracity of North Korea’s claims that the girl, said to be 15, is the granddaughter of Shigeru and Sakie Yokota.
“I hope she is my real granddaughter,” said Megumi’s father, Shigeru, 69. But “that could mean bad news for Megumi,” he added, because it might mean Pyongyang has been telling the truth about her death.
“I want to clear up the facts as much as possible,” he said.
Earlier this month, North Korea said Megumi Yokota, who was abducted to Pyongyang in 1977 at age 13, hanged herself at a mental hospital in 1993 after suffering depression.
Sakie Yokota, 66, said she still does not know what to believe.
“I want to wait until the test results come back because we have no idea what North Korea may do,” she said. “My husband says, ‘I think she’s my granddaughter,’ probably because he feels as if his daughter has come back.
“But Megumi must have been teaching spies. That’s why North Korea has claimed she is dead, because they can’t show her in public,” as Megumi could identify the spies she taught.
She also cast doubt on the authenticity of a photo handed to Japanese officials in Pyongyang by the girl claiming to be her granddaughter. The photo shows Megumi as an adult.
“It could be made up,” she said. “Her eyes look different, but then I sometimes feel they look similar. I was expecting her to look stern, so I kind of feel strange about her appearing so calm.”
The father said he will visit North Korea if the DNA test proves the teenager is his granddaughter.
“We’ll never know anything unless we go,” he said. “The man who was Megumi’s husband has said he would meet with us if we were to go. I want to ask why he married Megumi, what kind of life they led and, if she is indeed dead, where her grave is.”
The mother expressed reservations about going to North Korea. , saying, “I’m torn.”
Asked what he would like to do with his daughter, who would be 38, if she is found alive, the father said he would like to show her Japan’s high-rise buildings and take her to Tokyo Disneyland.
The mother said she would like her daughter to relax and enjoy freedom after enduring years of constant monitoring.
“I want to take her to a vast grass field, like on a ranch in Hokkaido, and want her to lie down with her arms and legs stretched wide,” she said. “I want her to feel free with the cattle, horses and clouds moving around. I hope that day will come.”