Yaeko Taguchi, one of the Japanese abductees whom Pyongyang admitted died in North Korea, may have been executed after serving her purpose as a language instructor for the female agent who blew a Korean Air jetliner out of the sky in 1987, relatives said Friday.
The relatives learned Thursday from the government that North Korea informed Japan during the historic summit Tuesday between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that Taguchi died July 30, 1986, a little over a year before the bomb was planted on the South Korean jet.
Taguchi, a Tokyo club hostess and native of Saitama Prefecture, is believed to have taught Japanese to confessed North Korean agent Kim Hyon Hui, who was tried by Seoul, sentenced to die and then later had her sentence commuted.
Kim identified the Japanese woman from police photos and said she had been living in the North under the name Li Un Hye, according to police.
Kim later wrote in her memoir that she met Taguchi in July 1981 at a spy training facility and lived with her until March 1983. Taguchi was working there as a Japanese-language instructor for North Korean agents, she said.
“Was she killed before the bombing of the jet because her role as an instructor was over?” the 55-year-old wife of Taguchi’s brother asked. Neither the wife nor the brother wanted to be further identified.
Taguchi, a divorced mother of two, was working at a bar near JR Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo under the name of Chitose when she disappeared in June 1978 at the age of 22, probably in Tokyo while her two children were at a day-care center.
“She came to apply for the position after seeing a classified advertisement in a newspaper. I guess she was attracted by the dorm owned by the bar, as she had children. She was beautiful,” bar manager Mitsuaki Yamada, 55, recalled in a Kyodo News interview.
The children — a 2-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy when their mother vanished — were then raised separately by relatives.
Kim described Taguchi in her book as a “stylishly dressed, very beautiful woman.”
When Taguchi was drunk, she used to count the ages of her children on her fingers, saying “How old are they now,” and wept due to her desperate desire to see them again, Kim wrote.
Kim also quoted Taguchi as saying, “How happy it would be if I were able to raise that girl” when they saw a little girl at a nearby village.
The National Police Agency and Saitama Prefectural Police said in May 1991 they were almost certain Taguchi is Li Un Hye.
The media refrained from releasing her real name, but the family of Taguchi’s brother received harassing letters saying they should apologize to the Japanese people for the jetliner bombing.
Taguchi’s brother’s wife said she was angered because her family was treated like they were a party to the bombing, even though they were actually victims of North Korea’s crimes.
Taguchi’s daughter, who was raised by the abductee’s sister and was 15 years old when the NPA said her mother may be the woman who taught the agent Japanese, was told about the ordeal her mother went through.
Taguchi’s son, who was raised by Taguchi’s other brother, only came to know about his mother recently because her guardians refrained from telling him to protect his feelings, they said.
Taguchi was one of 11 Japanese on Tokyo’s official list of those it said had been snatched by North Korean agents between 1977 and 1983, and was one of the abductees in a list North Korea provided during the summit.
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