Japan yesterday called for greater international pressure on North Korea to shed more light on the abductions of Japanese and South Koreans by the communist country during the 1970s, as the families of two kidnapping victims met with officials in Tokyo.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe held talks with the mother and sister of a South Korean man purportedly kidnapped and forced to live in North Korea. The two arrived in Japan on Sunday to meet the parents of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese kidnap victim who is believed to have married him while living in the North.
Abe said greater international pressure was needed to settle disputes over the abductions. Little progress has been made in bilateral talks between Japan and North Korea.
"The [South Korean] family members have been through hardship for a long time, just like the Japanese victims. The important thing is for Japan and South Korea to work together," Abe said.
Yokota's parents and South Korean support group leaders also met with Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso to ask for greater support.
The South Korean abductee's sister, Kim Young-ja, told a special committee meeting on kidnapping at Japan's Parliament later yesterday that South Korea must provide more support and cooperate with Japan so that the victims' families can get their loved ones back from North Korea.
"We're happy to cooperate in any way possible. When the two families join hands, we can make a bigger voice," Kim Young-ja said. "All these years, we had believed my brother had died. We even tried not to think about him to supress sorrow ... But now there is hope we may be able to see him again."
Earlier this month, South Korea announced that DNA tests on Yokota's daughter showed a "high possibility" that Kim Young-nam fathered her, backing Japan's earlier findings.
In 2002, North Korea admitted abducting 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train as spies, and allowed five to return home. Pyongyang said the other eight, including Yokota, were dead, though many Japanese believe she still lives in the North.