Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Hi everyone...Been working on many things...among them, getting ready for a slew of upcoming screenings in Europe and the US. The film has been traveling Europe thanks to the Japanese Embassies in Britain, Belgium, France, Switzerland and soon it will be shown in Romania and Bulgaria. As I blogged earlier, the film was shown at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switerland this year. The Japanese government now sees this film as a way of communicating this issue to people in other countries. The other good news is that the film will finally make it's BBC debut next month. As many of you know, our friends at the BBC helped us finish the film and now they are putting a ton of energy into promoting it on their popular documentary program called "Storyville". It is scheduled to air on March 22nd. More to come on that soon. For now, I have some very cool news to report. Noel Paul Stookey, or "Paul" as he is known to most people, has written a song for Megumi and her family. Noel Stookey is the "Paul" in the legendary folk group "Peter, Paul and Mary" ("Puff the Magic Dragon", "Where Have All the Flowers Gone and "Blowin' in the Wind"). He heard the story of Megumi, saw the film and decided to write a song about her. The song's going to be released in Japan (see the articles below). Noel called me last December to tell me what he was up to and we were absolutely thrilled to hear that another artist was contributing to the effort to raise awareness about what happened to Megumi Yokota in November, 1977. We've been in touch ever since. I can tell you that his motives were the same as ours when we started. He heard a story that he felt others had to hear as well.

Go to this link to see Noel's performance of the song on Japanese TV for Megumi's parents:

Check out the articles below on the song's release in Japan.


U.S. folk singer pleads for abducted Japanese girl
By Elaine Lies Mon Feb 19, 4:14 AM ET

TOKYO (Reuters) - Moved by the story of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese schoolgirl kidnapped by North Korean secret agents three decades ago, folk singer Noel Paul Stookey has penned a song he hopes will help bring her home.

The saga of Japanese kidnapped by Pyongyang's agents in the 1970s and 1980s to help train spies is a highly emotive topic in Japan but has been little known overseas until recently.

In six-party talks on halting North Korea's nuclear program that ended last week, Japan said it would not provide aid to Pyongyang in return for nuclear disarmament unless there was progress on the issue of the abductees.

North Korea says Megumi, kidnapped on her way home from school in 1977 at the age of 13, hanged herself in 1994.

But her parents believe she is alive and Tokyo wants better proof of her fate.

"When I read what had been done to this young girl and the emotional result to her family, I decided to do what folk music has always done -- put a face on the pain," Stookey, a member of folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, said at a news conference in Tokyo ahead of Wednesday's release of "Song for Megumi."

"I am also holding out hope that somewhere in an automobile in North Korea, (its leader) Kim Jong-il is listening to the radio and thinks of his own family," said Stookey, 69.

The plaintive song, performed by Stookey at the news conference, asks where Megumi is and has the chorus:

"Return, Megumi, to me/Across the waves of the sea."

On Wednesday, Stookey and Megumi's parents will meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who rose to power partly due to his tough stance on North Korea, especially over the abductees.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that its agents had abducted 13 Japanese, sparking outrage in Japan.

Five were repatriated in 2002, with their families joining them later, but Pyongyang says the other eight are dead.

Awareness of the abductees overseas has grown after last year's release of a documentary film about Megumi and her parents.

As Stookey sang, Megumi's mother Sakie, 71, wiped her eyes.

"We believe and hope that if many people around the world hear and sing this song, it will help solve the abduction issue," said her father, Shigeru, 74.

Proceeds from the song, as well as several concerts Stookey plans in Japan this May, will go to Megumi's parents for their activities on behalf of Megumi and other Japanese abductees.

Stookey, whose eldest daughter is the same age as Megumi, said his feelings as a father brought him closer to the Yokotas.

"It is very difficult to imagine such a horrible thing happening to someone so close to you," he said.

Feb. 20, 2007, 2:27PM
Noel Paul Stookey sings in Japan about abducted girl

Associated Press

TOKYO — Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary has written a protest song about a Japanese schoolgirl abducted by North Korean agents in 1977.

Stookey, 69, sang Song for Megumi — the title track of his new album — at a performance Tuesday attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Megumi Yokota's parents, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota.

Some of the lyrics are in Japanese. "Anata wa doko? (Where are you?)," Stookey sang at the performance, televised by public broadcaster NHK.

North Korea shocked Japan in 2002 by admitting it had abducted 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and '80s to train spies. The communist regime allowed five to return home later that year, saying the others, including Megumi, were dead.

But Japan has demanded proof, saying more of its citizens may have been taken by Pyongyang. Tokyo has also refused to give energy aid to the impoverished regime until the issue is cleared up.

"I hope that maybe the world community, as they learn of this issue, will put pressure on governments not to abuse human rights — that they must accomplish their goals in other ways," Stookey told the Associated Press.

Stookey said he plans to donate profits from his four-track album to efforts to resolve the abduction issue.

Peter, Paul & Mary, which also includes Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers, recorded covers of a number of protest songs in the 1960s, including Blowin' in the Wind and Where Have All the Flowers Gone, but are perhaps best known for Puff the Magic Dragon.