Abductee’s daughter meets her grandparents

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Abductee’s daughter meets her grandparents

TOKYO - The parents of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea in 1977 have met their Korean-born granddaughter for the first time.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry confirmed yesterday that Shigeru Yokota and his wife Sakie spent time with Kim Eun-gyong over several days last week in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Kim is 26 years old, Japanese media said.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency said the Foreign Ministry “embraced the meeting as a positive development and plans to seek the reopening of intergovernmental talks” between Japan and North Korea.

Kim’s mother, Megumi Yokota, was kidnapped in Japan in 1977 when she was on her way home from school at the age of 13. She is believed to have married a South Korean, Kim Young-nam, who also was abducted by North Korea.

North Korea says Yokota has died, but Japan says North Korea has yet to provide definitive proof. Japan has never accepted North Korea’s explanation of Megumi Yokota’s death, as bones North Korea said were Yokota’s were found to be those of a man after DNA testing.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s to help train spies and said eight of them had died, including Megumi Yokota. Five were allowed to return in 2002.

Japan suspects there are more abduction cases that North Korea has not revealed and the issue has been a major obstacle to relations.

Japan has demanded more information about abductees while North Korea has said the issue is closed.

Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations, and have not had official talks since November 2012.

Foreign ministry officials from both countries held informal talks in China earlier this month on the sidelines of a meeting between the North Korean and Japanese Red Cross societies.

At those talks, the two countries agreed to the meeting between the Yokotas and their granddaughter, Japanese media reported. Officials from the two foreign ministries are expected to talk again this week at a follow-up meeting of the Red Cross societies in China.

AP, Reuters

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