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Asia Sentinel: In Megumi's Footsteps

Author: Todd Crowell
March 12, 2009

Todd Crowell asks, why does Japan obsess over North Korean kidnappings?

Excerpt: It has been more than 30 years since Megumi Yokota, a 13-year-old junior high school girl, was snatched by North Korean agents as she was walking home from school in the west coast Japanese city of Niigata and spirited away. Yet for many Japanese it might as well have happened yesterday.

Although most of the kidnappings occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Japanese are more obsessed with determining their true fate than ever before. It complicates Japan's diplomacy and the six-party talks, of which Japan is apart, aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The abduction issue was very much in the news this week when Koichiro Iizuka, son of Yaeko Taguchi, kidnapped in 1977, flew to Pusan, South Korea, to meet with former North Korean agent Kim Hyon-hui. Now 47, Kim was convicted of the terror bombing of a Korean Airlines passenger jet in 1987, which killed 115 people.

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