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Ex-abductee Soga voices gratitude for support 5 yrs after repatriation.

NIIGATA, Japan, Oct. 17 Kyodo

Former abductee Hitomi Soga expressed gratitude Wednesday for the warm support she has received from people as she marked the fifth anniversary of her repatriation from North Korea.

''I returned to Sado in the afternoon five years ago today,'' Soga, 48, told a news conference in Sado, Niigata Prefecture. ''People showed things really warmly to me, who didn't know anything, and that made me who I am today. I sincerely appreciate it.''

On Soga's mother Miyoshi, who has remained missing since being abducted together with her in 1978, Soga said that passing by the site where they were kidnapped ''reminds me of my mother.''

''I want to see her lively face with my own eyes,'' Soga said, adding that she wants to take her mother to a hot spring.

She also recalled the first two years after her 2002 repatriation, saying, ''The first two years were the most difficult, waiting for my family by myself.''

Soga married Charles Jenkins, a former U.S. soldier who deserted to North Korea, in 1980 and has two daughters. Her husband and daughters stayed in North Korea after her repatriation but came to Japan in July 2004 to live with Soga.

''The greatest joy was when I met my family in Indonesia and came back to Japan with all four'' family members together, Soga said.

On Megumi Yokota, one of the other abductees with whom Soga used to live at a facility in North Korea, Soga said, ''I really regret being unable to bring back the red bag that I received from Megumi when I parted with her.''

Soga started working at a nursing home in Sado this April.

''I enjoy working. I'd like to make efforts so I can win the confidence of residents'' at the nursing home, Soga said.

Soga and four other Japanese abductees, abducted by North Korean agents in three separate cases in 1978 from Niigata and Fukui prefectures, were repatriated to Japan on Oct. 15, 2002, a month after then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made a landmark visit to Pyongyang.

The abductions are a thorny issue between Japan and North Korea and an obstacle to normalizing bilateral ties.

Only five, including Soga, of the 17 people on the Japanese government's list of abductees have been repatriated.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Oct 20, 2007
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