• Kyodo


The parents of Megumi Yokota, one of the Japanese abducted by North Korean agents, are frustrated by the lack of progress over their daughter’s return as Thursday marked 35 years since her disappearance.

“Thirty-five years is a long time. I’ve reached such an old age and am in a race against time,” said Shigeru Yokota, who turned 80 on Wednesday.

“Every year, I’m saddened to see no progress,” he said, holding a comb given to him by his daughter on Nov. 14, 1977, for his 45th birthday, the day before she was abducted on the way home from school at age 13.

His wife, Sakie, 76, likewise is feeling the stress: “We’re mentally and physically strained to the breaking point.

“The Japanese government must make all-out efforts to settle the matter” while the parents of all the victims are still alive.

Japan and North Korea were slated to hold senior working-level talks Thursday and Friday in Ulan Bator, during which the abductions could be on the agenda.

Megumi Yokota was taken near her home in the city of Niigata coast while walking home from badminton practice on Nov. 15, 1977.

Her parents have spoken more than 1,300 times in rallies across Japan to call for her rescue. Their physical conditions have worsened as they have gotten older, with Shigeru hospitalized in 2005 for blood disease and Sakie suffering from an irregular heartbeat. He also underwent an operation in 2007 to remove his gallbladder.

Megumi’s twin brothers, Takuya and Tetsuya, who are 44, have asked their parents not to work themselves too hard, but Shigeru said he will continue activities for his daughter’s return “as long as I can move my body.”

Sakie said she is disgusted at the constant change of state ministers in charge of the abduction issue due to political scandals and other reasons.

“We cannot die” before Megumi is returned, she said.

Pyongyang has said their daughter has died, but this is disputed by her parents and Japanese authorities.

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