On the eve of the 15th anniversary of Megumi Yokota's abduction by North Korea in 46 days, a rally was held at her alma mater's elementary school in Niigata City, and classmates and students sang songs wishing for Megumi's return.

On November 1, 1977, when Megumi Yokota was in her first year of junior high school, she was abducted by North Korea on her way home from school in Niigata City, and in 11 days, it will be 15 years since then.

On the 15th, an assembly was held at Niigata Elementary School, Megumi's alma mater in Chuo-ku, Niigata City, and about 46 students from all schools, including Megumi's classmates, participated.

At the beginning, Megumi's classmate Masaki Ikeda greeted her and said, "Megumi-san was a cheerful and kind classmate, and I hope that Megumi will return to Japan and hug her mother, Sakie."

Then, violinist Naoya Yoshida, another classmate of Megumi's, performed in hopes of Megumi's return, and her mother, Sakie, also listened to the performance on the phone with the venue.

After the performance, Sakie told the participants, "I've been separated from Megumi for 46 years, and it's been a hellish time where I can't have a fun conversation.

Next, a sixth-grade student who represents the children said, "Megumi's sadness at not being able to see her precious family is immeasurable. I am waiting for next year's 'Welcome Back Gathering,'" he said, reading out a message to Megumi.

And at the end, everyone sang "Like a Cosmos" written by Sakie with her feelings for Megumi.

A sixth-grade student said, "I will be sad if I can't see my mother, so I want Megumi to come home as soon as possible."

Masaki Ikeda said, "Even a child can understand that we want to make it a 'welcome home' party as soon as possible, and I hope that Prime Minister Kishida will seriously address the abduction issue."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno: "I am truly sorry for the extreme remorse"

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at an afternoon press conference, "It is extremely regrettable that many abductees, including Megumi, are still stranded in North Korea, and I am truly sorry.

He said, "As the families of the victims are getting older, the abduction issue is a humanitarian issue that cannot be ignored even for a moment, and we will continue to make every effort to realize the return of all victims as soon as possible."