• Kyodo


North Korean authorities have purportedly offered a Japanese national living there a chance to return home.

Setsuko Maruyama was among the Japanese citizens left behind on the Korean Peninsula at the end of World War II. She later married and today the 85-year-old lives in the northeastern North Korean city of Chongjin.

Members of the government’s special investigation committee researching the abductions of Japanese individuals paid her a visit on Aug. 4 and asked if she wanted to go back to Japan, her brother, a resident of Yokohama, said on Wednesday.

Tsuyoshi Maruyama, 80, said he learned some of the details from Setsuko’s daughter during a three-day visit to North Korea this month organized by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).

He said the investigators asked Setsuko how she had come to live in Chongjin.

Her exact reply isn’t known, but Maruyama quoted his sister as saying, “I want to go to Japan at least once.”

Pyongyang launched a special committee in July to investigate the whereabouts of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. The probe also includes Japanese living there for other reasons and individuals listed as missing who Japan suspects were abducted.

North Korea is expected to release the inquiry’s first report soon, although no date has yet been set.

Tsuyoshi and Setsuko were both born on the Korean Peninsula. After the war Tsuyoshi went to Japan, but Setsuko, their father and younger sister never made it amid the postwar chaos.

Setsuko eventually married in North Korea. The whereabouts of the siblings’ father and younger sister remain unknown.

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.