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Families believe North Korea responsible for vanished fishing crew

Date Posted: 2002-11-30

With recent revelations that North Korea may have abducted as many as 70 to 80 Japanese nationals, families of the crew of a Miyako fishing boat that vanished without a trace 25 years ago have made a request to the National Committee for Rescue of Abductees by North Korea.

The boat, 8-ton Kyoyou Maru from Hirara City, Miyako Island vanished in 1977 while fishing near Korea. Despite wide searches by the 11th Maritime Safety Agency, no trace of the boat and its seven-member crew was ever found. The last radio contact with the boat took place Nov. 24 when the captain said that they would fish in waters near Korea, everything was fine and would be back home by the New Year.

After the official search by MSA turned up nothing, the captainís parents continued the search traveling to Taiwan, and even Guam and Palau where they visited local fishing villages asking whether anyone had seen the missing boat and its crew. Finally, ten years after the boat vanished, the families held funeral rites for the missing crew.

But after five Japanese who had been abducted returned home some in the families have second thoughts, and believe that North Koreans captured the boat and its crew. They also believe that it is possible that some of the crew could still be alive, and are asking officials to restart investigation.

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