Prince Takamado dies at age 47

He was a cousin of the Emperor and an all-around good guy. So what a shock it was to hear of his sudden and untimely death on Nov. 21. After playing squash at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, his heart just stopped beating. In the hospital, he was put on a heart-lung machine, but died several hours later.

It was only a few years ago when I attended a Macworld Expo in Tokyo. I was admiring the latest Power Macintosh G4 computers at the Apple booth when suddenly, right in front of me, a very familiar-looking man walked up to a Power Macintosh and eagerly asked an Apple staff person about the computer. The man was Prince Takamado. He had a down-to-earth air about him and I was surprised that there was no army of bodyguards surrounding him. Anybody could have gone up to him to shake his hand.

I had a camera around my neck and thought to take his picture, but decided to respect his privacy and didn’t shoot. Too bad. Needless to say, I was very surprised at his interest in computers, especially Macintosh (my own favorite for many years).

May he rest in peace.

Abductees from North Korea return home

The biggest news in Japan this month was of course the homecoming of the five Japanese who were abducted by North Korea in 1978. Can you imagine being kidnapped and taken to a foreign, dictatorial country and being forced to make a life there and coming to like it there? And to not see your family and relatives and your home country for 24 years?? The abductees have now lived longer in N. Korea than in Japan. Apparently, things worked out quite well for these lucky five. Sadly, most of the other Japanese abductees were not so lucky and met a premature death due to bizarre causes.

One of the abductees, Mr. Kaoru Hasuike, brought over about 100 photos which surprised his brother Toru. For one thing, it is rare for North Korean citizens to be able to take photos. Apparently, it’s a luxury only for the privileged class. According to Toru, Hasuike’s photos mostly showed special occasions such as the wedding, birthdays, and travel photos (within North Korea only, of course). There were few photos showing their life in North Korea. As of this writing, Kaoru agreed to make only one photo public. It showed he and his wife standing in front of a temple in 1995. Nothing really special, except that both were wearing a North Korean pin on their chests.

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