Photo/IllutrationSakie Yokota gives a speech with a photo of her daughter, Megumi, shown on the screen during a rally in Niigata on Nov. 17. (Hiroaki Takeda)

NIIGATA--From where Megumi Yokota disappeared four decades ago, her mother, Sakie Yokota, and other relatives of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea stepped up their calls for the government to bring their family members home on Nov. 17.

Yokota, 82, took the podium to appeal for the early resolution of the abduction issue in a protest rally in this city’s Chuo Ward before a Cabinet member and about 1,000 people.

Her appeal came two days after the 41st anniversary of the disappearance of 13-year-old Megumi. Yokota’s family lived in Niigata at that time.

“Why did people who were living a normal life have to suffer from such a brutal act?” Yokota said.

Her son Tetsuya, 50, made a plea to the government, saying the families of the victims are getting too old to continue campaigning for a solution to their long-running nightmare.

“We should not cause people in my parents’ generation to bear the burden of standing at the forefront of the campaigning,” he said. “The government should aim to resolve the abduction issue at an early date.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who attended the rally, reassured the families of the abductees, citing the positive environment following the historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June. Suga doubles as a state minister in charge of the abduction issue.

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he is determined to meet with Kim” to resolve the issue, he said.

Among the other speakers was Hitomi Soga, 59, of Sado, Niigata Prefecture, who returned to Japan in 2002 after she was abducted by North Korean agents in 1978.