Family calls for abductees' return

The family of a woman who was abducted by North Korean agents 44 years ago attended a rally in Kawasaki City, south of Tokyo on Saturday.

Yokota Megumi was in the first year of junior high school when she was abducted on her way home from school. She would be turning 57 on Tuesday.

The city where the family lives holds a rally every year around the time of her birthday.

Megumi's 85-year-old mother Sakie said nothing about her daughter is known despite all attempts by her family and others to get help over the years.

She said if the Japanese government sees it as an important issue for the country, she wants the next prime minister to meet the North Korean leader to resolve the issue.

Megumi's brother Takuya spoke about her personality and the suffering the family has gone through since she was abducted. He said it is cruel to force his parents' generation to wear themselves out while seeking their children's rescue.

He called on the government to exercise aggressive diplomacy and take concrete action, keeping in mind that there is only limited time left.

After the rally, Takuya said he wants the new LDP leader Kishida Fumio to meet the North Korean leader after he becomes prime minister, and resolve the issue without compromising and with a determination to get back all the Japanese abductees.

The government says North Korean agents abducted at least 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. Five were repatriated after a bilateral summit in 2002. But the rest, including Yokota Megumi, remain unaccounted for.