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Kagoshima police continue search for man and woman North Korea says are dead

Kagoshima police stopped drivers along a road in Hioki City on August 12 ad a part of an investigation into two missing persons (Sankei)

KAGOSHIMA (TR) – To be filed under: due diligence.

Despite claims by North Korea that a man and woman who disappeared in Hioki City more than four decades ago are both dead, Kagoshima Prefectural Police last week continued their investigation, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Aug. 12).

On August 12, nineteen officers and affiliated persons stopped vehicles and inquired with drivers on a road in the city about the disappearance of Shuichi Ichikawa and Rumiko Masumoto.

Along the shoulder, several officers held framed placards with information about the pair and their disappearance, including their descriptions and the location and time they were last seen.

Also presented to drivers were large mounted photographs of Masumoto, who is shown in a red sweater, and Ichikawa, attired in a short-sleeve shirt. Standing nearby were life-size cutouts of the same photographs.

Kagoshima police displayed life-size cutouts of Shuichi Ichikawa and Rumiko Masumoto on August 12 (Twitter)

Never seen again

It was 42 years ago on August 12 that Ichikawa, then 23, and Masumoto, 24, went to a nearby beach in the town of Fukiage to view the sunset. They were never seen again.

The Japanese government has said that Ichikawa and Masumoto are among 17 nationals who were abducted to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

North Korea’s government later acknowledged that they entered the
Communist nation and married on April 20, 1979.

Pyongyang also said that Ichikawa drowned in the ocean in 1979. Meanwhile, Masumoto died of heart disease in 1981, according to North Korea.

Kagoshima police displayed placards with information on two missing persons to motorists on August 12 (Sankei)

“Full picture not realized”

This year was the 38th time that the police have carried out the exercise since they started in 1983. Police did not hand out leaflets to driver’s this time due to fears over the novel coronavirus, and instead opted for the placards.

The Hioki Police Station created the placards, which are also on display at the beach where the pair disappeared. The goal is to keep the abduction issue from fading from view.

“[An understanding] of the full picture of the case and the return of the victims have not been realized yet,” said police representative Satoru Arishima. “We are continuing to focus on the investigation and public relations activities.”