• Kyodo

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Relatives and supporters of Japanese and South Koreans kidnapped by North Korea held a rally Saturday in front of the White House to ask the U.S. public and President George W. Bush to help get the abductees out.

“Citizens of the United States, please join forces with our struggle,” said Kenichi Ichikawa, brother of Shuichi Ichikawa, who vanished from a Kagoshima Prefecture beach in 1978 at age 23 along with his girlfriend Rumiko Masumoto, then 24.

North Korea admitted in September 2002 it had abducted the couple but claimed Ichikawa died of a heart attack while swimming in 1979 after marrying Masumoto the same year.

Misa Morimoto, twin sister of Miho Yamamoto, who went missing from Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, in 1984 at age 20, told the rally, “I will go on appealing to people until I can meet my sister.”

In a letter handed to organizers and read out at the rally, 82-year-old Choi Gye Wol, the mother of a South Korean man believed to have been abducted in 1978 to train North Korean spies and thought to be the husband of Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota, called for help to secure his repatriation.

“Mr. Bush, fellow Korean-Americans, please, please help me to see my son before I die. Please help this old mother’s wish come true,” she said.

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