Who We Are

Updated April, 2009

The Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN: “The Families’ Association”) was formed in March 1997 after the kidnap of Megumi Yokota by the North Korean authority became clear by a North Korean defector and former agent.  The fourteen families decided to disclose their identities to call on the public for the rescue of their family members detained in North Korea.  Incidents of abduction concentrated between 1977 and 1978.  Two decades had passed before the families’ began there “rescue movement.”

Many organizations to support the rescue movement were rapidly set up across Japan since then.  In 1998, The National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN: “Rescue Abductees”) was organized to coordinate this national movement among local groups.  There are currently thirty-five local and one youth organizations (as of March 2009) coordinated through Rescue Abductees.  

Both the Families Association and Rescue Abductees are non-profit organizations receiving no government subsidies.  Their activities are supported solely on contributions by individual.  However, a law that was enacted in December 2002 to support victims kidnapped by North Korea provides Japanese governmental support to victims and their families.  

According to the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea (COMJAN), there are approximately 500 missing cases that cannot rule out the possibilities of North Korean abduction.  The Commission, an organization that spun off from Rescue Abductees in January 2003, believes that about seventy of them are highly likely to have been kidnapped by North Korea.  

Members of the Japanese Parliament came together in April 1997 to form a parliamentarian league to support the rescue movement.  This league was dissolved to be renewed as the Parliamentarian League for Early Repatriation of Japanese Citizens Kidnapped by North Korea, a multi-party organization with over 200 Diet members, headed by Chairman Takeo Hiranuma. 

Local lawmakers have also formed their organization in 2000.  This movement has continued to spread across Japan where we now see many organizations at the prefectural level. 
The Headquarters for the Abduction Issue was established in September 2006 by the Japanese government.  The Headquarters, an organization in the Cabinet Office, promotes comprehensive measures for the early return of living abductees.  

The rescue movement led by the Families Association and Rescue Abductees includes local meetings across Japan and press conferences to update the public on the latest information, and collect petitions to send our calls to the national government and the Diet.  We have also visited U.S., South Korea, Thailand, China and European nations to investigate other North Korean kidnapping cases.  We have strengthened ties with families in other countries in similar situations and have worked together, with facts discovered through our investigation, to call on their governments and international organizations for assistance to repatriate victims from North Korea.

We have continued to call the Japanese government to express the intention of imposing sanctions if they were necessary to rescue all the victims in North Korea.  Former Chairman of the Families’ Association, Shigeru Yokota and his wife, Sakie Yokota, have spoken in over one thousand meetings during the nine-and-a-half years of leading the rescue movement.  There are now over six million petitions supporting our cause.

 Hundreds of victims from Japan and other nations are still detained in North Korea. The Japanese government has officially identified 17 Japanese that were kidnapped during late 1970s and early 1980s.  We believe that there must be at least about a hundred Japanese kidnapped and detained in North Korea. 

According to the South Korean authority, North Korea kidnapped about ninety thousand South Koreans during the Korean War in between 1950 to 1953 and five hundred more after the war ended.  Our recent investigation identified four Lebanese, two Chinese, one Thai, and one Romanian victims of this crime.   Gathering information indicate kidnappings of French, Italian, Dutch, Jordanian, Malaysian, and Singaporean citizens.  There are no exceptions for U.S. citizens.  In 2000, Reverend Kim Dong-shik, a U.S. permanent resident residing in Illinois was detained while protecting North Korean defectors in China.  Two U.S. female journalists were also kidnapped in March 2009.  

The Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN) Board Members:
Chairman: Shigeo Iizuka
Vice Chairman: Akihiro Arimoto, Shichiro Hamamoto
Secretary General: Teruaki Masumoto
Deputy Secretary General: Takuya Yokota, Koichiro Iizuka

The National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN) Board Members: 
Chairman: Yoshiaki Fujino
Acting Chairman: Tsutomu Nishioka
Vice Chairman: Yoichi Shimada
Secretary General: Ryutaro Hirata 

Otoha 1-17-11-905, Bunkyo
Tokyo 112-0013, Japan

Tel: +81 3 3946-5780
Fax: +81 3 3946-5784

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