The parents of a Japanese girl who was abducted by North Korea more than three decades ago met their child’s daughter for the first time last week, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
North Korea in 2002 admitted that it kidnapped 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s to help train spies. It said that eight of the abductees had died, including Megumi Yokota, who was taken in 1977 on her way home from school at the age of 13.
The ministry said Yokota’s parents spent several days with their 26-year-old granddaughter, Kim Eun-gyong, in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, a venue Japanese and North Korean officials often use for unofficial contacts.
Kim’s father was a South Korean man who was also abducted by North Korea.
Tokyo does not accept Pyongyang’s explanation of Yokota’s death after DNA testing showed that bones North Korea said were hers actually belonged to a man.
Japan suspects there are more abduction cases that the North has not revealed and the issue has been a major obstacle to normalizing relations between the two.
Tokyo has demanded more information about abductees, but Pyongyang has said the case is closed.
The Kyodo news agency said the ministry “embraced the meeting as a positive development and plans to seek the reopening of intergovernmental talks” between Japan and North Korea.
Officials from the Japanese and North Korean affiliates of the Red Cross held talks this month on the return of Japanese nationals’ remains from North Korea.
Formal talks between the two countries have been suspended since Pyongyang launched a rocket which it said put a weather satellite into orbit in December 2012.
The US, South Korea and Japan said they saw the launch as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting targets as far away as the continental US.