Former victim alarmed by declining interest in North Korean abductions of Japanese

JIJI

Hitomi Soga, a former abductee to North Korea, on Wednesday voiced concern about the waning public interest in the issue.

“I feel the public is gradually losing interest in the abduction issue,” Soga, 58, told a news conference in the Sea of Japan island city of Sado, Niigata Prefecture, ahead of the 15th anniversary next month of her return home.

Soga claimed that the problem of abductions is “more significant” than that of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, which is now at the center of global attention.

“I hope everyone (remaining in North Korea) will be returned to Japan while their relatives remain in good health,” she stressed.

Soga called on the government to “make a greater effort than ever to resolve the abduction issue as soon as possible.”

Speaking about her mother, Miyoshi, who is still unaccounted for, Soga said, “I just hope she is not sick. If she comes back, I want to hold her tight and say thank you.”

Her husband, Charles Jenkins, 77, and first daughter, Mika, 34, are working in Sado and “enjoying their lives in Japan” after the family moved from North Korea, Soga said, adding that she was relieved when her 32-year-old second daughter, Brinda, got married.

Soga, who was kidnapped in August 1978 with Miyoshi, then 46, from their home in Sado, returned to Japan in October 2002 with four other abductees, following a historic meeting between then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang in the preceding month .

In the coastal town of Daisen, Tottori Prefecture, on Wednesday, Hajime Matsumoto, 70, delivered a lecture at a local elementary school ahead of the 40th anniversary next month of North Korea’s abduction of his younger sister, Kyoko, then 29.

Matsumoto stressed the importance of continuing the campaign to get the remaining abductees back from North Korea, even though little progress has been made. “If we abandon this, then it’s over,” he said.

“I hope as many children as possible will become interested in the abduction issue,” Matsumoto said after the lecture.

“I was scared by the abduction story,” said Mikako Ogura, 11, a sixth-grader at the school. “I’m more interested in the issue after hearing his thoughts,” she said.

Kyoko Matsumoto was kidnapped after leaving her home in the Tottori city of Yonago for a knitting class in October 1977.