• Kyodo News


Police will put two wives of Red Army Faction hijackers living in North Korea on an international wanted list, possibly later this month, on suspicion they were involved in the abductions of two Japanese nationals from Europe to the North in 1980, according to investigation sources.

The two are Yoriko Mori, 53, and Sakiko Wakabayashi, 60, both of whom are already wanted for violating the passport law.

Mori married Takamaro Tamiya, leader of the Red Army Faction hijackers who forced a Japan Airlines airplane to land in North Korea in 1970. Tamiya died in 1995. Wakabayashi is the wife of Moriaki Wakabayashi, 60.

Police suspect Mori and Wakabayashi took Kaoru Matsuki and Toru Ishioka to North Korea from Madrid around May 1980, having invited them to travel, the sources said. Matsuki was 26 and Ishioka was 22 when they disappeared.

The sources said Japanese investigators found the names of the two suspects in a hotel register in Madrid where Matsuki and Ishioka stayed, and a photo of the two suspects and Ishioka sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on a bench at a zoo in Barcelona.

In 2002, police put on an international wanted list Red Army Faction member Kimihiro Uomoto, 59, on suspicion of abducting Keiko Arimoto to North Korea from Denmark in 1983.

Matsuki and Ishioka as well as Arimoto are among the 17 Japanese listed by Tokyo as having been abducted to North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In 2002, North Korea admitted that its agents kidnapped 13 Japanese, including Matsuki, Ishioka and Arimoto, but said the three had died after being taken to the country — a claim being disputed by their relatives as well as the Japanese government. Pyongyang insists it knew nothing about the four others.

Police Friday in Uki, Kumamoto Prefecture, raided the home of a man living in North Korea who is linked to the Red Army Faction hijackers and is believed to have violated the passport law.

Kuniya Akagi, 52, also known as Jun Ogawa, is the brother-in-law of 59-year-old Shiro Akagi, one of the radical leftists who hijacked the JAL plane in 1970.

Kuniya Akagi is reportedly planning to return to Japan, possibly in early June.

Premises searched in Friday’s raid included Akagi’s home in Uki.

Police plan to question Akagi, whose name was Yonemura before he married Shiro Akagi’s sister, upon his return in connection with the disappearances of Arimoto and the two other Japanese from Europe in the early 1980s, because he was staying in Vienna at around the same time Arimoto was abducted to North Korea.

The immediate allegation police have made against Akagi concerns his visit to North Korea sometime before or during April 1987 despite government restrictions on such travel.

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