• Kyodo


A 70-year-old woman from Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, returned to Japan on Monday from a trip to Pyongyang to visit her son, who disappeared while at sea in 1963 and now lives in North Korea.

Tomoe Terakoshi, who returned to Niigata on the cargo-passenger ship Mangyongbong No. 92, told reporters that the chance of her 51-year-old son Takeshi visiting Japan in the near future is slim.

“It is unlikely that Takeshi will make a visit home in the near future, as relations between Japan and North Korea are cooling,” she said.

Takeshi disappeared while fishing in the Sea of Japan with his uncle and others in May 1963.

Terakoshi learned that her son was alive in 1987 from a letter that his uncle in North Korea wrote to her.

She has since been trying to arrange for her son to visit home.

The 9,672-ton Mangyongbong operates between Niigata and Wonsan, North Korea, about three times a month, carrying North Korean residents in Japan to visit their relatives in North Korea.

During her stay in Pyongyang, Terakoshi said she went to see the May Day parade with Song Ho Kyong, president of the Korea-Japan friendship association.

She said she also broached the topic of obtaining Japanese citizenship for her grandchildren in Pyongyang. However, Takeshi’s 25-year-old son and others told her that they have devoted their lives to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and can get by without the Japanese citizenship.

Terakoshi said she was not aware of the recent detention and deportation from Japan of a man believed to be Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, adding that she did not discuss political matters with her son.

The man and his three companions were deported to Beijing on Friday morning, three days after they tried to enter Japan on forged Dominican Republic passports.

Beijing airport officials quoted Chinese security authorities as saying the man is expected to leave for Pyongyang on Saturday morning on a regular flight.

The four were deported to Beijing as they had told officials during their detention that they wanted to go to China, Japanese government sources said.

Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic ties.

Takeshi said through North Korean media in 1997 that the boat in which he and his uncle were fishing was wrecked at sea, but they were rescued by a North Korean fishing vessel.

The two later acquired North Korean citizenship, according to his statement on the official Korean Central News Agency. The uncle later died in the country.

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