On 15 Nov 1977, 13-year-old Megumi Yokota vanishes without a trace while returning home from school. Life was normal until that day. This 2006 DVD tells the astonishing story of the decade-long journey to uncover the truth.
What began as a simple missing persons case became a battle between two nations at the highest levels. After a week, the police went public with her case but there was nothing. They thought she might have been kidnapped for ransom or taken somewhere and raped. One-and-a-half years after Megumi’s disappearance, some people speculated that she must have run away and her mother made an appeal on TV for her to return or at least call or send a postcard.
Suddenly, an ordinary banker and his wife, and later their twin sons (younger brothers of Megumi) found themselves entangled in an extraordinary conspiracy.
Two years after she disappeared, a crime report by the editor of the Sankei national newspaper discovered that strange things had happenened and wrote about the possibility that North Koreans were kidnapping people. A few couples were reported missing but they were young adults and it was at a different time of the year.
Twenty years went by without a word. In Jan 1997, an investigative reporter visited Megumi’s parents with what he knew. A North Korean defector (an agency-trained agent) had met her in Oct 1988 at a ceremony for Kim Jong Il. He claimed that the North Koreans took Japanese people to teach them the Japanese language and the Japanese way of life. One of North Korea’s aims was to communize the South.
The Japanese government knew about the abduction but did little until Megumi’s case when it was highlighted in parliament. Japan had no diplomatic relation with North Korea.
What began as a simple missing persons case became a battle between two nations at the highest levels. In Sep 2002, the Japanese Prime Minister (Koizumi) left for a summit in North Korea with a video from Megumi’s father. This was the first visit ever by a Japanese Prime Minister to North Korea. It was expected that the abduction crime would be solved.
Megumi was said to have committed suicide by hanging after being hospitalised for depression; the family refused to believe this. The whole city was shocked into silence.
On 15 Oct 2002, five survivors returned to Japan. A video of Megumi’s daughter in North Korea was released, in which she declared she didn’t know her mother was Japanese and that her mother had died in Mar 1993 (later, North Korea would change the date to 1994). It was believed she had taught Japanese to Kim Jong Il’s son.
Koizumi made a second visit to North Korea but it made no difference to the abduction issue and he made himself look like a fool to Kim for a second time.
A Japanese investigative team arrived in North Korea on 15 Nov 2004, 27 years after Megumi was abducted but was told to go to the foreign ministry to collect an urn containing Megumi’s remains. The Japanese did not believe this and the government ordered DNA tests which proved inconclusive.
Later, a leading UK science journal raised the possibility that the DNA samples were contaminated. North Korean officially acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese people, though some estimates say as many as 100 Japanese were abducted, along with hundreds of South Koreans and other individuals from around the world.