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Destiny : The Secret Operations of the Yodogo Exiles (Hardcover) (Koji Takazawa)
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In 1970, nine members of a Japanese New Left group called the Red Army Faction hijacked a domestic airliner to North Korea with dreams of acquiring the military training to bring about a revolution in Japan. The North Korean government accepted the hijackers—who became known in the media as the Yodogo group, based on the name of the hijacked plane—and two years later they announced their conversion to juche, North Korea’s new political ideology. Little was heard from the exiles until 1988, when a member of Yodogo was unexpectedly arrested in Japan, and communications with the group opened up in the context of his trial.
As a former Red Army Faction member, journalist Koji Takazawa made several trips to North Korea, reestablished his ties to the group’s leader Takamaro Tamiya, and helped to publish the group’s writings in Japan. After Kim Il Sung revealed that Yodogo members had Japanese wives, Takazawa published a book of interviews with the women, but in the process became suspicious about the romantic stories they told. He also wondered about the members who were missing and learned more details in long, private conversations with Tamiya. After Tamiya’s sudden death in 1995, Takazawa launched his own investigation of what the group had actually been doing for two decades, even traveling to Europe to follow traces there.
An example of superb investigative journalism, Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogo Exiles offers Koji Takazawa’s powerful story of how he exposed the Yodogo group’s involvement in the kidnapping and luring of several young Japanese to North Korea, as well as the truth behind their Japanese wives’ presence in the country. Takazawa’s careful research was validated in 2002, when the North Korean government publicly acknowledged it had kidnapped thirteen Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s, including three people whom Takazawa had connected to the Yodogo hijackers. Embedded in his pursuit toward what truly happened to the Yodogo members is Takazawa’s personal reflection of the 1970s, a decade when radical student activism swept Japan, and what it meant to those whose lives were forever changed.