Tokyo police obtained arrest warrants Wednesday for two Japanese women living in North Korea on suspicion of involvement in the abduction of two Japanese from Europe to the communist state in 1980, according to investigative sources.
The suspects are Yoriko Mori, 54, and Sakiko Wakabayashi, 52. Mori is the widow of the man who led the Red Army Faction hijacking of a Japan Airlines jetliner to North Korea in 1970. Wakabayashi is the wife of another of the hijackers.
Both are already on the international wanted list on suspicion of violating the passport law. The abduction allegations will be added to their status by the Metropolitan Police Department, the sources said.
Mori was married to lead hijacker Takamaro Tamiya, who died in 1995. Wakabayashi, whose maiden name is Kuroda, is the wife of Moriaki Wakabayashi, 60, who is still wanted for his involvement in the hijacking.
Police suspect Mori and Wakabayashi took Kaoru Matsuki and Toru Ishioka to North Korea from Madrid around May 1980 after inviting them to go traveling together.
Japanese investigators reportedly 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 together on a bench at a zoo in Barcelona. When they disappeared, Matsuki was 26 and Ishioka was 22.
In 2002, police updated the international wanted list status of another Red Army Faction fugitive, Kimihiro Uomoto, 59, who allegedly took part in the abduction of Keiko Arimoto to North Korea from Denmark in 1983.
Matsuki, Ishioka and Arimoto are among 17 Japanese whom the government has formally claimed were abducted to North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s. North Korea has said all three have died.
Ishioka sent a postcard from Vienna to an acquaintance in Japan saying he “will travel around the communist bloc” with three other people he met in Madrid, who appear to be Matsuki and the two wives of the hijackers.
Tokyo police also plan to investigate how this postcard came to be written.
Dated June 3, 1980, Ishioka said in the postcard he was staying in Vienna and was thinking of going to Romania, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, adding that he planned to return to Spain in July.
Ishioka also asked an acquaintance to visit him in Madrid during the summer.
Investigators have confirmed that Ishioka met with the two suspects at a zoo in Barcelona in April 1980. He vanished around May that year.
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