• Kyodo


Relatives of Yasushi Chimura and Fukie Hamamoto, who were abducted to North Korea and listed by Pyongyang as still being alive, asked the Fukui Prefectural Government on Tuesday to help bring the pair home.

Chimura’s father, Tamotsu, 75, and Hamamoto’s brother, Yuko, 73, traveled to the capital to meet Koji Seki, chairman of the Fukui Prefectural Assembly, and Fukui Gov. Yukio Kurita.

Chimura and Hamamoto, now 47, were together when they vanished from Obama, Fukui Prefecture, on July 7, 1978, about a week after they were engaged to be married. They were 23 at the time.

At the historic Sept. 17 summit between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Pyongyang reported that the two are married to each other and living in Pyongyang with their three children.

The couple were on a list of 14 Japanese that Pyongyang handed over during the summit in response to Tokyo’s demand for information on citizens believed abducted in the 1970s and 1980s. Pyongyang said five of the abductees were still alive, eight were dead, and that it had no record that the remaining person entered the country.

The relatives of the couple asked local officials to help find the pair jobs and schools their children could enter upon returning home. They also requested that the prefecture urge the national government to demand damages for the abductions.

A support group for relatives of abductees in Niigata Prefecture said Tuesday it will ask the Niigata Prefectural Police to reopen an investigation into the apparent abduction by North Korea of a couple and two individuals who disappeared in the 1970s and 1980s.

The group said it believes the couple — a man from Aomori Prefecture and a woman from Iwate Prefecture, both of whom were 23 at the time, disappeared from Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, in October 1977. The group did not provide their names.

It also believes that Takashi Osawa, an engineering official at a prefectural agricultural office on Sado Island who vanished in 1974 at age 27, and Miho Yamamoto of Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, who disappeared in 1984 at the age of 20, were abducted.

Osawa vanished on Feb. 24, 1974, on his way home from a steak house on the island. Yamamoto vanished on June 4, 1984, after leaving home to go to a library.

Yamamoto’s bag, containing a wallet with cash and a driver’s license, was found later on a beach in Kashiwazaki.

Relative solidarity

Relatives of Japanese abducted to North Korea said Tuesday they have demanded that the Foreign Ministry contact them as a group by fax or document from now on instead of telephoning each family individually.

Toru Hasuike, the group’s secretary general, and other members made the decision after discussions with supporters and conveyed the request to the ministry Monday.

The ministry has accepted the request, saying it would be better to contact the families as a group, according to the members.

Hasuike’s younger brother, Kaoru, was 20 when he was abducted in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, in 1978 and taken to North Korea. Pyongyang last week said he is still alive.

After the Sept. 17 summit in Pyongyang between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the families have expressed anger about how the ministry handled the information about the abductees.

The relatives are outraged because the government has seen fit to only telephone the families of abductees listed by Pyongyang as still living, asking them whether they want to visit the North to reunite with their kin.

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