- Title: JAPAN: FIVE JAPANESE ABDUCTED BY NORTH KOREA SET FOOT ON HOME SOIL
- Date: 15th October 2002
- Summary: (W4) TOKYO, JAPAN (OCTOBER 15, 2002) (REUTERS) ***CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** SLV KAORU HASUIKE AND YURIKO OKUDO ARRIVING FOR PRESS CONFERENCE SV YASUSHI CHIMURA AND FATHER, TAMOTSU SPEAKING MCU HITOMI SOGA SV YURIKO OKUDO AND FATHER BOWING LV OF PRESS CONFERENCE SLV (Japanese) HITOMI SOGA SAYING: "I am very glad to be here." (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) FUKIE HAMAMOTO SAYING: "I am very glad to meet you all, thank you very much."/ (Japanese) HUSBAND OF HAMAMOTO, YASUSHI CHIMURA, SAYING: "I really sorry to have made all of you worry over me for so long, please accept my apologies." MCU (Japanese) KAORU HASUIKE SAYING: HUSBAND OF HAMAMOTO, YASUSHI CHIMURA, SAYING: "I really sorry to have made all of you worry over me for so long, please accept my apologies." SLV CAMERAS SLV PULL IN MCU (Japanese) YUKIKO OKUDO, SAYING: "I really sorry to have made all of you worry over me for so long, please accept my apologies." LV OF PRESS CONFERENCE AS ABDUCTEES LEAVE AND FAMILIES CONTINUE THE PRESS CONFERENCE MCU (Japanese) YUKO HAMAMOTO, BROTHER OF FUKIE, SAYING: "I am so happy. The ties that bind us brothers and sisters was strong. I still feel that today. Since the incident I had been praying to the gods and buddhas that she comes back safely and soundly. My prayers were heard." LV OF PRESS CONFERENCE MCU (Japanese) TOTSUMU NISHIOKA, SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE RESCUE OF JAPANESE KIDNAPPED BY NORTH KOREA, SAYING: "The returnees are in a very delicate position. They have left husbands and relatives back in North Korea. The wish of the welcoming Japan-side relatives is to greet them back calmly. We have asked the press and others understand this position and that they be responsible in their coverage." SV OF JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI MCU (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI SAYING: "They certainly must all be thinking various things tonight and certain things I am sure they can't talk about. But all in all the reunions have been a good thing." SV NEWS PAPER EXTRAS BEING DISTRIBUTED IN THE STREETS WITH HEADLINES OF THE RETURNEES CU KIMONO-CLAD WOMEN READING ON EXTRA EDITION HEADLINED IN JAPANESE "WELCOME BACK" (W4) TOKYO, JAPAN (OCTOBER 15, 2002) (REUTERS) SV PULL OUT LV FUKIE HAMAMOTO ( BESPECTACLED WOMAN IN BEIGE SUIT) AND YASUSHI CHIMURA (MAN IN DARK BLUE SUIT WITH BLUE RIBBON) STEPPING DOWN FROM AIRCRAFT WITH JAPANESE DIPLOMATIC ENVOY KYOKO NAKAYAMA (DARK BLUE SUITED WOMAN WITH BLUE CORSAGE) AT THEIR SIDE SV FUKIE HAMAMOTO CRYING SV (TALL MAN IN DARK SUIT) KAORU HASUIKE HUGGING RELATIVES SV WOMAN CRYING LV OF AIRCRAFT AND PEOPLE ON TARMAC
- Embargoed: 30th October 2002 12:00
- Location: TOKYO AND YAMAGATA CITY, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA298BY2BZQ96GVH0DRI8AOMPZX
- Story Text: Tears mingled with smiles and hugs as five Japanese abducted by North Korea set foot on home soil for the first time after nearly a quarter of a century in the secretive communist state.
At a later press conference in downtown Tokyo, the five held a brief press conference which left a lot unsaid and many questions unanswered.
Family members carrying bouquets of red flowers, Japanese national flags and "Welcome Home" banners escorted the five -- neatly dressed with blue ribbons in their lapels -- to their hotel rooms in downtown Tokyo after greeting them on the tarmac at Haneda airport earlier on Tuesday (October 15).
"I am so happy that I could meet you all again," a beaming Hamamoto told a news conference later. "Thank you all so much."
The other four, looking tired and tense, also spoke only briefly and in rusty Japanese before retiring to their rooms in the Tokyo hotel.
"I am sorry to have caused everyone such worry," said a thin and sombre Kaoru Hasuike, who was a university student when he was abducted with Yukiko Okudo.
Married now, the couple has a son in college in North Korea.
"I am truly happy to see that my parents are still well,"
Also on hand to welcome back the abductees were relatives of another eight who Pyongyang says are dead -- of suicide, illness and accidents. Many Japanese, angry over the abductions and suspicious of North Korea's accounts, believe they are either still alive or were victims of foul play.
The reunited families spent time after the abductees arrival getting reacquainted and recalling past times.
But many fear the abductees will not be able to speak their minds since they had to leave family members in North Korea.
With that in consideration, organisers asked all media and the general public treat the issue delicately.
"The returnees are in a very delicate position. They have left husbands and relatives back in North Korea. The wish of the welcoming Japan-side relatives is to greet them back calmly. We have asked the press and others understand this position and that they be responsible in their coverage" said Tsutomu Nishioka, secretary general of the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese kidnapped by North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, reversing years of denial, apologised for the abductions in a September 17 summit with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, clearing the way for the two nations to resume talks on establishing diplomatic ties.
Japan insists the abduction issue is not yet resolved and will top the agenda at the first round of normalisation talks, set to resume in Kuala Lumpur on October 29-30.
But Koizumi said he was happy with the reunions.
"They certainly must all be thinking various things tonight and certain things I am sure they can't talk about.
But all in all the reunions have been a good thing," he told reporters minutes after the press conference ended.
Activists say dozens more Japanese citizens were abducted and they are pressing the government to find out the truth before normalising ties with North Korea.
Others say establishing ties is the best route to take.
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