Outspoken Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara apologized Friday for saying that the missing mother of a Japanese abducted to North Korea had been killed, even though her fate remains unknown.

The hawkish politician told a Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly session that his words about Hitomi Soga’s mother, Miyoshi, also kidnapped but unaccounted for in North Korea, were based on “many experts’ opinions and my own interpretation of the circumstances over the abduction issues.”

“But the remarks lacked consideration, therefore I feel regret,” he said. “It is extremely regrettable for me to have hurt the abduction victims’ wish for reunification with their families” still in North Korea. “I apologize.”

Speaking at an assembly plenary session Thursday, Ishihara was referring to the abductions of Japanese by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s when he said Soga’s mother had been killed. His statement came after again criticizing the Foreign Ministry over its handling of the abduction issue.

Soga was repatriated to Japan last year. The whereabouts of her mother, who disappeared from Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture in 1978 at age 46, remain unknown.

Miyoshi Soga is believed to have been kidnapped together with her daughter. While North Korea has admitted kidnapping more than a dozen Japanese, it denies having abducted Soga’s mother.

Ishihara faced severe criticism recently for suggesting that a Japanese diplomat “deserved” a bomb planted in the garage of his apartment Sept. 10. Ishihara implied that it was payback for being too soft on North Korea.

No one was injured in the bomb scare directed at Hitoshi Tanaka, a deputy foreign minister who was deeply involved in Japanese negotiations with North Korea.

Ishihara said “it was natural” for Tanaka to be targeted by terrorists because he was “too soft” toward the reclusive state.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.