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HRNK on the Passing of Mr. Yokota Shigeru, Megumi's Father
June 05, 2020

Dear Friends of HRNK,
We are saddened to inform you that Mr. Yokota Shigeru, father of Ms. Yokota Megumi, passed away today. He was 87 years old. Mr. Shigeru Yokota and the Yokota family never relented in their quest for truth and justice. It is truly tragic that Mr. Yokota passed away before finding closure regarding the abduction of his daughter by North Korea’s Kim regime. We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the Yokota family.
Forty-three years ago, on November 15, 1977, 13-year-old Yokota Megumi suddenly vanished from a town in Japan’s Niigata Prefecture, while on her way back from badminton practice. Megumi was a bright and cheerful girl. She liked singing and drawing. She practiced Japanese calligraphy and classical ballet.
Megumi was abducted by agents of the Kim regime. A 13-year-old girl, tied up, gagged, and locked up in the pitch-dark and cold hold of a boat headed for North Korea. According to testimony heard much later, Megumi cried out “Mom! Mom!” She scratched the door and walls of the boat so desperately that her fingernails almost came off and were covered in blood.
In 2002, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made a stunning admission to then Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro that North Korea had abducted 13 Japanese nationals. Kim claimed that Megumi was one of 8 who had passed away while being held in North Korea. To this day, North Korea has not yet provided any convincing explanation or evidence of this claim. DNA testing of remains that Pyongyang provided found that they were not Megumi’s.
North Korea abducted nationals of Japan, South Korea, and other countries to force them to teach foreign languages and cultures to its overseas intelligence operatives, and to steal their identities for use by such clandestine agents of the Kim regime. The Japanese government has identified 17 Japanese citizens who have been taken. The possibility of abduction by North Korea cannot be ruled out for 883 other missing Japanese persons. According to HRNK’s 2011 report, “Taken! North Korea’s Criminal Abduction of Citizens of Other Countries,” people from 14 countries have been taken, including U.S., Chinese, Dutch, French, Guinean, Italian, Jordanian, Lebanese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, and Romanian nationals.
The February 2014 Report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) determined that:
Since 1950, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has engaged in the systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced disappearance of persons from other countries on a large scale and as a matter of State policy. Well over 200,000 persons, including children, who were brought from other countries to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may have become victims of enforced disappearance, as defined in the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
As we mourn the passing of Mr. Yokota Shigeru, HRNK pledges to our friends and allies that we will not relent until we reunite abduction survivors still held in North Korea with their families in Japan and elsewhere. We will not rest until we bring full closure to those families whose loved ones may have been lost while being held against their will in North Korea.
Greg Scarlatoiu
Executive Director

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