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Tsutomu Nishioka

【#479】Meaning of Trump’s Anger before Families of Abductees

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2017.11.09 (Thu)

November 6, 2017

     On November 6, U.S. President Donald Trump on a Japan visit met with family members of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. Trump carefully listened to the family members and deeply understood the seriousness of the abduction that separated them from their loved ones four decades ago. He then vowed to make effort to lead the abductees to return home in cooperation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
     As the North Korea situation could develop into a military clash as early as the turn of the year, the U.S. president, who believes that a U.S. national interest is to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear missiles that could hit the U.S. mainland, met with family members of foreign abductees. This fact may exert great pressure on North Korea’s Kim Jong Un regime and help prevent Washington from compromising with Pyongyang over Japan’s head and leaving the abduction issue unresolved. This represents a big achievement of the Abe government’s diplomacy, supra-partisan lawmakers’ activities and our private sector national movements.
Knee-to-knee meeting
     The meeting at the State Guest House in Tokyo’s Motoakasaka was planned for 20 minutes but lasted for about 35 minutes. From throughout Japan, 17 members of 10 families of abductees participated in the meeting, which started as President Trump and his wife entered the meeting room led by Prime Minister Abe and his wife. The presidential couple heard explanations about the circumstances of abduction from the standing family members while shaking hands with them one by one.
     Then, they sat in a circle. Sitting directly across from the presidential couple, and Abe and his wife were Sakie Yokota (the mother of abductee Megumi Yokota), Shigeo Iizuka (the elder brother of abductee Yaeko Taguchi), Hitomi Soga (who was abducted along with her mother Miyoshi Soga) and Akihiro Arimoto (the father of abductee Keiko Arimoto), who were given opportunities to make remarks within an arm’s length distance from the presidential couple. Takuya Yokota (the younger brother of Megumi) sat at the left of Sakie while holding a photo of Megumi and her family members. Sitting at the right of Shigeo was Koichiro Iizuka (the eldest son of Yaeko Taguchi) with the abductee’s photo. The other family members of the abductees sat behind the four in a manner to surround them. It was a very knee-to-knee meeting.

President Trump moved deeply
     When Sakie Yokota thanked the president for mentioning the abduction of her daughter in his recent United Nations speech and explained about Megumi, the president picked up and gazed at the photo Takuya had been holding. It depicted Sakie walking in amity with Megumi and her two younger brothers. As Shigeo Iizuka explained Yaeko as having been abducted while leaving her one- and two-year-old children and introduced Koichiro Iizuka as the then one-year-old son who has grown up over 40 years since the abduction, the presidential couple seemed surprised and deeply moved. President Trump told Hitomi Soga that it was fortunate for her to have returned home. “I think you also have your mother,” Soga told the president, talking about her mother who has yet to return home.
     The president seriously listened to stories of the abductees with a stern look, seemingly containing his anger. Any abduction that deprives citizens of their loved ones is an unpardonable evil for any culture. Amid the unprecedented North Korean crisis, I would hope that when President Trump makes a difficult decision, the anger indicated at the meeting might work in the innermost depths of his mind.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a member of the Planning Committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University.