Saturday, November 25, 2006

Yorii Beach and Megumi Yokota

This sign, posted by the Niigata Prefectural Police at the entrance to Gokoku Shrine, instructs anyone with information regarding the kidnapping of Megumi Yokota to notify the authorities. Abducted by North Korean agents on her way home from school, early in the evening of November 15, 1977, Megumi is believed by many Japanese to be alive in North Korea. While admitting that its agents carried out the kidnapping, North Korea claims that Ms. Yokota succumbed to illness many years ago. To substantiate this claim, North Korea has provided amateurishly forged "evidence", at the same time asserting that Ms. Yokota's remains were washed away by floods. It is believed that the agents landed on Yorii Beach, their submarine lying some distance offshore. Furthermore, it is thought that their instructions were to abduct whomsoever should come along first that November evening. Megumi, who had moved to Niigata City with her family a few months before, lived not far from the beach and would have been one of the few pedestrians about in the area where she was last seen, on her way home from school badminton practice after 5:00. As the sun sets at 4:30 in mid-November, the abductors would have been emboldened by the cover of darkness. Megumi Yokota is not the only Japanese known to have been abducted by North Korea- officially, there are 17 others-, but her case receives the most publicity, due in part to the tireless efforts of her parents and supporters. A recently released, critically acclaimed U.S. documentary about Ms. Yokota's abduction may prompt the Japanese public to demand tougher sanctions against the North Korean regime, unless there is progress toward resolving all outstanding abduction cases.

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