The family of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea in 1978 will meet a former Pyongyang spy in a bid to clear up the mystery surrounding her fate, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said yesterday.
“The meeting will probably take place in the near future,” Yu told a press conference, adding details were still being worked out.
He was speaking after talks with his Japanese counterpart, Hirofumi Nakasone.
“I feel very good support as Minister Yu reaffirmed that he would cooperate and back Japan’s position on the kidnap issue,” Nakasone said.
Japan is pressing North Korea to come clean about the fate of Yaeko Taguchi and other citizens who were kidnapped by the communist state in the Cold War era to train its spies.
The former spy, Kim Hyun-hee, was sentenced to death by Seoul for blowing up a South Korean airliner in 1987 but later pardoned.
She lives in South Korea and has renounced her homeland’s communist regime.
Kim has told local media she wants to meet Taguchi’s relatives and the Tokyo government has also been seeking a meeting.
The North has said Taguchi, who was 22 when she was abducted, died in a car crash in July 1986. But Kim, who took Japanese lessons from Taguchi, said she was alive until at least 1987.
Japan has refused to provide aid to North Korea under a six-nation denuclearization deal until it provides answers about the abductions.
It expressed concern at Washington’s decision last October to remove Pyongyang from a terrorism blacklist before the kidnap issue had been resolved.
Japan says it has confirmed the abduction of 17 of its citizens by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s.
The North in 2002 admitted to 13 abductions, allowing five of them to return to Japan while claiming the others had died.
Tokyo says it suspects some victims are being kept under wraps because they know too much about the regime’s workings.