• Kyodo


The family of a kidnapped Japanese woman who was released Friday in Venezuela after being held about eight months paid a ransom, her son said Sunday, without disclosing the sum.

Yoko Amemiya, 61, had lost a third of her weight since she and her husband, Akira, were kidnapped Nov. 17 in San Cristobal, the 34-year-old son told Kyodo News in a telephone interview.

Akira Amemiya, 67, was shot and killed by his captors during a shootout with national police two days after the couple were taken captive.

The son said the family paid ransom money on two occasions but he refused to disclose the amount.

He said his mother told him that during her captivity, she was taken around a mountainous area by an armed group, bathed in brooks and sometimes was given only one tomato for meals.

According to the Japanese Embassy in Venezuela, Amemiya was not injured.

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

The couple moved to Venezuela from Yamanashi Prefecture in 1958. The husband obtained Venezuelan citizenship in the 1970s, but his wife kept her Japanese nationality.

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