Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary recently spent several days in Japan to help promote his new single, "Song for Megumi," which was released February 21 and entered the Oricon singles chart at No. 78.
The song is about Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl who was kidnapped by North Korean spies at the age of 13 in 1977 on her way home from school. She was brought to North Korea to help train other spies in the Japanese language.
In 2002, Pyongyang admitted to kidnapping Yokota, as well as other Japanese nationals during the ’70s and ’80s, but said she committed suicide in 1994.
Her parents believe she is still alive and have pressed the Japanese government to demand her return.
At a news conference in Tokyo on February 20, Stookey sang the song, which has a chorus of, "Return, Megumi, to me/Across the waves of the sea," and explained that he was moved by the story when he read about it last year.
"I decided to do what folk music has always done – put a face on the pain" of Megumi’s parents, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, who also attended the news conference.
Sakie Yokota, who told reporters she and her friends were big fans of Peter, Paul and Mary when they were young, wiped away tears when Stookey performed the song.
The next day Stookey sang the song for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been one of the government’s main supporters of the families of abductees since the kidnappings were revealed more than four years ago.
All proceeds from the sale of the single will go to the Yokotas’ activities in helping to resolve the abduction issue. Stookey plans to return to Japan in May to play a series of concerts with some veteran Japanese folk acts.