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Okinawans suspected among abductees to North Korea

Date Posted: 2003-02-15

Members of three Okinawan families are among persons suspected of having been abducted by North Korea. Their names are on a second list that was published by the Association of Suspected Kidnap Victims’ Families.

The Association last Fall published the first list that contained the names of 70 people suspected of being abducted to North Korea. The second list, made public on Monday, contains the names of an additional 44 suspected victims, including the five Okinawans.

The earliest suspected Okinawan kidnap victim is Katsumi Nakamura, who disappeared in September1969 when he was 26 years old. He was working as a milk deliveryman at the time of his disappearance, and simply vanished after leaving for work one morning.

Seiko Tajima, Takashi Gima, and Koji Makishi were among the seven-man crew of a fishing boat that disappeared without a trace after leaving the port of Hirara on Miyako Island in Nov. 1977. Despite of a massive search effort by the 11th Maritime Safety Agency using helicopters and patrol boats nothing was ever found indicating the fate of the boat and crew.

Another Okinawan, Chukichi Nakazoe, 51, went fishing in his boat from Ishigaki in 1969 and never returned. Both the man and his boat simply disappeared.

Kidnappings are said to have been so common 30 years ago that in many villages parents admonished their misbehaving children by threatening them with a kidnapper. A stern “If you don’t behave yourself a big bad kidnapper is going to come and get you,” supposedly got even the most unruly kid to calm down.

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