• Kyodo


A Japanese woman who was kidnapped in November in San Cristobal, Venezuela, was released there Friday night after being held hostage for about 230 days, the Japanese Embassy in Venezuela said Saturday.

Yoko Amemiya, 61, is now under the protection of local authorities. Amemiya and her husband Akira, 67, were kidnapped last Nov. 17 and held captive in a residential area in the city’s suburbs near the border with Colombia.

Her husband was shot and killed by their abductors during a shootout with the national police two days later. The group then escaped, taking Amemiya hostage, and her whereabouts had since been unknown.

The embassy said Amemiya was not injured and does not have any health problems. She was quoted as telling the authorities, “I am tired, I want to rest.”

The conditions of her release and protection were not revealed.

The Venezuelan media speculated that the couple, who ran a shop in the city, might have been abducted because they refused to pay “war tax” to a criminal group associated with Colombian leftist guerrillas.

The couple, both from Yamanashi Prefecture, moved to Venezuela in 1958. The husband had obtained Venezuelan nationality in the 1970s, while Amemiya has kept her Japanese nationality.

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