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Son of NK Kidnap Victim Yearns to See His Mother

Posted March. 06, 2009 05:36,   

한국어

Yakeo Taguchi was a single mother raising two children after a divorce, but disappeared in June 1978. Her two children suddenly became orphans.

Her son Koichi Iizuka was just one year old and was adopted by his uncle, Shigeo Iizuka, who is the head of a group of Japanese families whose relatives were kidnapped by North Korea. The daughter was taken by her aunt.

Shigeo Iizuka never told Koichi he was adopted to prevent shock, and the rest of the two children’s relatives remained silent on the matter for 20 years.

The sister knew Taguchi was her birth mother because she had vague memories about her mother, but never told her brother about this.

The truth was unveiled in fall 1998, when Koichi Iizuka turned 21. While preparing documents for his passport ahead of a business trip to the United States, he found the word “adoptee” on his family register.

“It was a shock,” he said.

His uncle later said, “Your real mother is somewhere else. Your mother is Yakeo Taguchi, who was abducted by North Korea.”

It took him six years to shout to the world, “I am Taguchi’s real son. Please pay attention to abductions.” He shed tears alone and gritted his teeth.

Koichi Iizuka said he has no memory of his mother. He saw his mother only through pictures or the book written by former North Korean agent Kim Hyun-hee.

Iizuka is thus looking forward to seeing Kim. He said he will bring a hat his mother made while she was pregnant, a mother-child health book, and the umbilical cord with him because it is the only line connecting him to his mother.

He always tightly holds his family picture taken several months ago before his mother was abducted, as if he wants to make up for lost time.

Iizuka said he does not believe North Korea’s claim that his mother was killed in a car accident in 1986. “Half of the investigation papers North Korea gave were blacked out and my mother’s name was omitted. Several abductees who came back to Japan said they saw my mother after 1986.”

On announcing that he is her son in 2004, he said, “I wanted to urge the international community to address the issue at a time when the abductee issue was not addressed in the six-party talks.” He has since begun working publicly to address the problem.

That year, he wrote a letter requesting a meeting with Kim Hyun-hee via the Japanese Foreign Ministry, but said the letter was probably not delivered to her.

He also urged South Koreans to pay attention to the pain and suffering of abductees` families.



jkmas@donga.com