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Abductees’ relatives head to US seeking support | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

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Two relatives of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea have left for the United States to seek support from US officials for an early resolution of the issue.

The relatives are Yokota Takuya, who leads the group of abductees’ families, and Iizuka Koichiro.

Yokota is the younger brother of Yokota Megumi, who was kidnapped by North Korean agents at the age of 13.

Iizuka’s mother Taguchi Yaeko was abducted by the North when he was one-year-old.

The two plan to meet government officials and lawmakers of both chambers of Congress before they return to Japan on Saturday.

In February, the abductees families’ group compiled an action plan that says they will not oppose the Japanese government lifting sanctions on the North if all the remaining abductees are returned while their parents are alive.

The group strongly urged the Japanese government to take action and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to make a decision.

Yokota and Iizuka are expected to explain the new policy and seek understanding and support from the US side for the early return of abductees.

Speaking to reporters at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, Yokota said that nothing has changed since he visited the US a year ago.

He said that abductees’ families are still facing the fact that their loved ones have not returned, and their suffering has continued.

Yokota said that he hopes to meet US lawmakers, experts and government officials, and wants them to understand the situation for families that’s behind the new policy.

Iizuka said that one year means a lot to elderly relatives, and he thinks it’s important to continue efforts to gain support, understanding and cooperation from US officials to rescue abductees as soon as possible.

The Japanese government says at least 17 citizens were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. Five returned in 2002, but the other 12 are still unaccounted for.

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