• Kyodo


The brother of a Thai woman believed kidnapped to North Korea met Thursday with representatives of two Japanese groups working on the abduction issue, hoping to learn how to make contact with his sister and secure her safe return.

Sukham Panjoy, 59, the older brother of Anocha Panjoy, had a one-hour meeting in San Kamphaeng in northern Thailand with Teruaki Masumoto, secretary general of a group of relatives of people believed abducted to the North, and Tsutomu Nishioka, vice head of a group of supporters of the relatives.

“I’m confident that my sister is still alive and I hope that she will be able to come home safely,” Sukham told reporters after the meeting.

“If she cannot come back, at least we want to hear from her if she is safe and well.”

Fears that Anocha might have been abducted to North Korea emerged after former U.S. Army Sgt. Charles Jenkins, who deserted and defected to North Korea, staying almost 40 years until last year, stated in his memoir published last month that he had met her there.

Sukham said his sister disappeared in Macau on May 21, 1978.

He said Nishioka and Masumoto, whose older sister, Rumiko, was abducted to North Korea in 1978, invited him, his son, Banchong, and San Kamphaeng district chief Surachai Chongrak to attend the annual meeting of the Japanese groups in Tokyo on Dec. 22.

He also said he hopes to meet Hitomi Soga, Jenkins’ wife. Soga, 46, was abducted to North Korea in 1978 and was allowed to return to Japan in 2002.

Jenkins now lives with her on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture.

Banchong said he and his father would need to discuss whether it was prudent to join the Tokyo meeting. He said they were uncertain whether moves by them to get Anocha back might have negative results.

The two Japanese men said Soga confirmed she last met Anocha in North Korea in 1989, according to Panjoy.

Anocha “was kind and was helping Soga to raise her children,” he quoted the Japanese visitors as telling him.

Soga confirmed she had met Anocha when she saw an old picture of her, according to Banchong.

Masumoto and Nishioka will also meet Friday with Thai Foreign Ministry officials in Bangkok.

The charge d’affaires of the North Korean Embassy in Bangkok told a Thai Foreign Ministry official Tuesday his government has no evidence to suggest Anocha was in North Korea.

However, the ministry gave Kim Chol Nam official documents about Anocha and urged Pyongyang to continue investigating the case.

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