Prosecutors demanded an 18-month prison term Thursday for the wife of a Japanese hijacking fugitive charged with ignoring a Foreign Ministry order to surrender her passport.
Tamiko Uomoto, 51, did not comply with the ministry’s August 1988 order to surrender her passport after the government discovered she had had contact with North Korean agents, according to the indictment.
Her husband, Kimihiro, remains in North Korea after he and fellow Red Army Faction members hijacked a Japan Airlines jetliner to Pyongyang in 1970. Police have also obtained an arrest warrant for him over his alleged abduction of Japanese university student Keiko Arimoto from Europe to North Korea.
Prosecutors said in their closing argument that Uomoto played a central role in the hijackers’ overseas activities and that it was not illegal for the government to order her to surrender her passport because her activities, including urging Japanese to travel to North Korea, posed a security problem for the nation.
Uomoto pleaded not guilty, claiming the ministry order lacked a legal basis. She also denied aiding the North’s abductions of Japanese.
Her defense team has argued that Uomoto was exposed to “excessive social punishment by media reports that linked her to abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea, even though she was actually being charged with a minor offense.”
Uomoto herself told the court that she is furious over “unfounded allegations” that she was involved in the abductions.
She moved to North Korea in 1976 and married there, according to prosecutors.
Japanese authorities put her on an international wanted list in 1993 for her 1988 refusal to comply with the Foreign Ministry order to surrender her passport.
Last December, Uomoto returned the passport to the ministry via her proxy, and was arrested upon her return to Japan in February.
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