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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Japan kidnap families dispute video
Abducted Japanese nationals Kaoru Hasuike (right) and Yukiko Okudo
Two of the survivors who were seen on the video
The families of Japanese kidnapped by North Korea have called for their relatives to return home, despite watching a video in which their loved ones said they were happy in the North.

At least 13 Japanese were abducted in the 1970s and 80s to help train North Korean spies in Japanese customs and language.


She could not say what she wanted to say

Yuko Hamamoto, brother of victim
Five surviving kidnap victims, and the daughter of one of eight victims who North Korea says have died, said on the video they were reluctant to return to Japan.

But their relatives refused to believe them, saying the Communist regime in North Korea had told them what to say.

Yuko Hamamoto, brother of Fukie Hamamoto who was snatched from a beach 24 years ago, said his sister must be returned.

"She could not say what she wanted to say and instead just shed tears," he said. "Why could she not just ask to return home? She could not say that she wanted to return home."

Japanese suspicions

A Japanese Government mission brought the tape back after visiting North Korea and meeting the survivors.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted the kidnappings last month after Japan insisted on knowing the truth as a pre-condition for talks on normalising relations.

Megumi Yokota pictured before her abduction in 1977
Megumi Yokota is said to have committed suicide
The two sides are due to meet later this month, despite mounting public anger as more details of the victims emerge.

The family members of eight people that North Korea says are dead now believe their loved ones may be alive after all.

Doubts were stirred after North Korea said seven of the graves had been washed away in a flood.

North Korea has said two of the victims died on the same day in a car crash, while a further two inhaled noxious fumes from a coal stove.

The Japanese mission was told that Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped in 1977 aged 13, committed suicide in 1993 at a mental hospital where she was being treated for depression.

The government has said it intends to push ahead with talks with North Korea.

"If normalisation talks are halted, those things we don't know now will remain unknown indefinitely," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda.

Meanwhile a Japanese man who disappeared from a fishing boat nearly 40 years ago, has arrived in Tokyo as part of a North Korean labour union delegation.

Takeshi Terakoshi, 53, who denies he was kidnapped, is now working in North Korea as a union official.

He says he was shipwrecked and helped by the North, but a support group for abduction victims says he was certainly kidnapped.


Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

02 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
27 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Sep 02 | Media reports
17 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
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