• Kyodo News


Kidnap victim Yaeko Taguchi was alive and well in Pyongyang apparently after the North in 2002 allowed what it claimed were the five surviving Japanese abductees to return home, a Cabinet member indicated Thursday.

Separately, a spokesman for kin of South Korean abductees said Taguchi is still alive and disclosed her whereabouts.

“We have received information that she was doing fine six or seven years ago” in Pyongyang, Hiroshi Nakai, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, told reporters.

Nakai, who heads the National Public Safety Commission, said he could not disclose the source of the information.

Nakai said the information had already been conveyed to Taguchi’s relatives. Pyongyang claims she died in 1986 as a result of a car accident.

But he said the government has no information regarding where and how she is now.

Taguchi’s son, Koichiro Iizuka, 33, voiced worry over Nakai’s remarks: “I don’t know the purpose of making such comments. But I am concerned that they may affect the ongoing efforts to collect information and approach (her).”

He said it was true Taguchi’s kin has been told of the information from Nakai, but there were no details.

On Wednesday, Choi Song Yong, head of the South Korean group of relatives of abduction victims, said he was recently told by a source close to North Korean affairs that Taguchi is living Pyongyang.

Choi said Taguchi, married to a South Korean abductee, is living in a housing complex in the Manggyongdae district. Choi also said he had already informed Japan.

Nakai said the information he has is different from Choi’s.

Former North Korean agent Kim Hyon Hui, who is currently in Japan, told Taguchi’s family in March in South Korea that she believed Taguchi was still alive.

Kim, who leaves Friday, met with Shigeo Iizuka, the 72-year-old brother of Taguchi, and her son, Koichiro, in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.

But the Iizukas said Kim had no information about Taguchi’s whereabouts.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.