Viewing cable 06TOKYO1436
Title: AMBASSADOR VISITS ABDUCTION SITE OF MEGUMI YOKOTA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06TOKYO14362006-03-17 07:30:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tokyo
VZCZCXRO2282
OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG
DE RUEHKO #1436/01 0760730
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 170730Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9888
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1188
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0934
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 7376
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 5190
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 5215
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 8330
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 6372
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2788
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 9351
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 001436 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO EAP A/S HILL. 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PREL JA KN KS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR VISITS ABDUCTION SITE OF MEGUMI YOKOTA 
 
REF: TOKYO 02971 
 
¶1.  SUMMARY:  Ambassador Schieffer visited Niigata City on 
March 16 and retraced the route 13 year old Megumi Yokota 
took the night she was abducted by agents of the DPRK in 1977 
on her way home from school.  He was accompanied by Mr. and 
Mrs. Yokota and over 50 reporters.  The Ambassador then met 
with 12 members of the two leading abductee family members 
support groups, as well as representatives of the local 
Niigata Prefectural Assembly.  During the meeting, and in a 
press conference that followed, the Ambassador: 
 
-- pledged that so long as he is Ambassador, he will make 
every effort to resolve this issue and to see that justice is 
done; 
 
-- assured the families that Japanese officials are working 
hard to resolve the issue, and raise it every time they meet 
with the Ambassador to discuss North Korea. 
 
-- promised continued cooperation with Japan to resolve this 
issue, but pointed out that the decision to apply sanctions 
against the DPRK is a matter for the Japanese government to 
decide; and 
 
-- said he has discussed this with the President and, moved 
by the first-hand account he had received, would do so again. 
 
 
The families and their supporters expressed their 
appreciation for the U.S. Government's strong support for 
their cause, and for the Ambassador's willingness to 
personally come to Niigata City.  The day's events generated 
extremely positive press coverage in all major Japanese media 
outlets for the support shown by the United States.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
¶2.  On March 16, 2006, Ambassador Schieffer visited Niigata 
City and walked with Mr. and Mrs. Yokota, retracing the steps 
their 13 year old daughter Megumi had taken the night she was 
abducted by North Korean agents on her way home from junior 
high school in November 1977.  The visit fulfilled an offer 
the Ambassador had made during his initial meeting with the 
abductee families in May 2005 (reftel).  During that meeting, 
he had offered to meet with more family members and travel to 
an abduction site to see for himself what had happened. 
 
The Saddest Story I Have Ever Heard 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶3.  As the Yokota's walked with the Ambassador, they 
explained that two classmates had accompanied Megumi part of 
the way home.  First one, and then the other wished Megumi 
good night as they neared their respective homes located just 
blocks from the school.  Based on the response of police dogs 
who later tracked the scent from a representative piece of 
clothing, police concluded that Megumi was snatched by 
kidnappers as she was walking alone, just a couple of blocks 
from her home.  National Police Agency investigators believe 
Megumi was likely grabbed from behind and bundled into a car 
that took her to the nearby seacoast, Mrs. Yokota explained; 
one of their neighbors later reported hearing a girl scream 
at the time Megumi would have normally reached that corner on 
her walk home. 
 
¶4.  After viewing the location of the Yokota's former home 
two blocks down that side street, the Ambassador and Mr. and 
Mrs. Yokota were driven through a windbreak of pine trees to 
Yorii Beach.  From there, they looked out over the Sea of 
Japan in the direction of North Korea while the Yokotas 
explained the evidence gathered from other sources -- 
including a DPRK defector who claims knowledge of Megumi's 
abduction -- which indicates she was likely bundled into a 
small boat at some point along the beach and taken out to a 
pre-arranged rendezvous with a larger DPRK vessel.  The long 
walk gave the Ambassador the opportunity to express to the 
Yokota's his personal sadness and deep sympathy over the 
abduction of their daughter.  While viewing the abduction 
 
TOKYO 00001436  002 OF 003 
 
 
site, and again at the later press conference, the Ambassador 
said, "I think this is the saddest story I have ever heard." 
 
¶5.  A crowd of about 50 reporters -- representing every major 
Japanese national TV network, newspaper and wire service -- 
followed the Ambassador and the Yokota's as they walked from 
Yorii Junior High School to Yorii Beach.  At the noontime 
press conference that followed, the Ambassador noted that 
some of the reporters were crying as the Yokotas spoke. 
Throughout the day, network news programs replayed scenes of 
the Yokotas speaking with the Ambassador as they walked 
along, and featured a number of moving quotes from the press 
conference.  National network NTV, in an unusual move, 
devoted a full 20-minute segment of their afternoon program 
"The Wide" to the Ambassador's visit and the Yokota story. 
 
Request to Meet With the President 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶6.  After their stop at Yorii Beach, the Ambassador and Mr. 
and Mrs. Yokota held a meeting at the Niigata Hotel with 
officials from the two primary abductee support groups -- The 
Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North 
Korea (AFVKN) and the National Association for the Rescue of 
Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN).  The former 
principal of Megumi's school and one of the classmates who 
had walked home with her the night she was abducted were also 
present.  At that meeting, Mr. Yokota expressed heartfelt 
appreciation to the Ambassador for coming to Niigata. 
Teruaki Masumoto, Secretary General of AFVKN whose sister is 
an abductee, said they believe over 100 Japanese citizens 
were abducted by DPRK agents.  To date, five have been 
returned.  Masumoto stressed that many of the family members 
are growing old, making resolution of the abduction issue an 
urgent priority.  "Your coming here will put a lot of 
pressure on North Korea," Masumoto told the Ambassador, 
adding that he considers the actions of the U.S. Embassy to 
be "a great contribution to solving this issue." 
 
¶7.  Speaking on behalf of the Yokotas, Masumoto suggested 
that if the President were to meet with Mrs. Yokota when she 
travels to Washington to testify before Congress in late 
April, it would put additional pressure on North Korea by 
making it clear that U.S. concerns about the DPRK will not be 
fully resolved until Pyongyang addresses the abduction issue. 
 Several participants expressed displeasure with the lack of 
progress by their own government, commenting that Japan 
appears "hesitant to call North Korea a rogue nation," and 
"should do more to protect the rights of its citizens."  The 
issue will be difficult to resolve without more pressure, 
Tadashi Takahashi, Chair of the Niigata Prefecture 
Parliamentarian League for the Abduction Issue, remarked. 
Japan used to view the North Korean ferry (which regularly 
calls at Niigata Port) as a ship of peace; now Japan sees it 
as a "ship of devils," Takahashi added.  Yoshie Baba, Chair 
of NARKN's Niigata Chapter, noted that the Ambassador's visit 
was the first time a U.S. official had come to Niigata to 
address this issue. 
 
A Testament to the Love You Hold 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶8.  In his comments to the families and their supporters, the 
Ambassador said that his visit had given him a deeper 
perspective on the problem.  He expressed his sadness over 
the "unbelievable burden" the family members have had to bear 
for so many years.  "What comes home to me as I have listened 
to you is the incredible anguish that has come to your life. 
How could anyone sit at a table in North Korea and justify 
their policy of abductions?  It is as if conscience and 
kindness that are a part of being human deserted those who 
made that decision," the Ambassador said. 
 
¶9.  Responding to the families' request to meet with the 
President, the Ambassador assured them he had spoken to 
President Bush about this issue and -- moved by what he had 
seen and heard that day -- intended to do so again.   He 
pledged that so long as he is U.S. Ambassador to Japan, he 
 
TOKYO 00001436  003 OF 003 
 
 
would make every effort to resolve the issue and to see that 
justice is done.  He pledged to continue to work with the 
Japanese government until this issue is resolved, adding that 
the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions against the 
DPRK is a matter for the Japanese government to decide.  In 
both the private meeting and press conference that followed, 
the Ambassador stressed that the Japanese government was 
listening to the families.  "Every time I have met with 
Japanese officials to discuss North Korea, they have raised 
the abduction issue," he said.  "Japanese officials want to 
resolve this issue and always refer to it in terms of the 
overall goals we share for the Six-Party Talks," he assured. 
 
¶10.  At the conclusion of the Ambassador's meeting with 
AFVKN/NARKN, Mr. and Mrs. Yokota presented him with a photo 
album containing pictures of their daughter as a child, and 
later as an adult woman living in North Korea.  Despite the 
DPRK's claim that Megumi Yokota committed suicide in the 
early 1990s, Mr. and Mrs. Yokota and many of their supporters 
believe the woman in those photographs is Megumi Yokota. 
They are convinced she is still alive and living somewhere in 
North Korea.  The Ambassador thanked the Yokota's and their 
supporters for their continuous and tireless efforts on 
behalf of the abducted family members.  He noted how 
difficult it must be to relive these tragic events nearly 
every day.  "Your efforts are a testament to the love you 
hold for them," the Ambassador said. 
SCHIEFFER