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Parents of N. Korean abductee meet grandchild in Mongolia
Publication Date : 17-03-2014
The parents of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea nearly 40 years ago, met her daughter for the first time in Mongolia earlier this month, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Shigeru Yokota, 81, and his wife, Sakie, 78, met their 26-year-old granddaughter, Kim He Gyung, from March 10 to 14 in Ulan Bator. Kim Young Nam also attended, who according to several government sources is believed to be Yokota’s husband.
The meeting came after officials from the Japanese and North Korean governments reached an agreement during an informal conference on March 3, the sources said.
The Yokotas had long hoped to meet the daughter of Megumi, who was abducted when she was 13. North Korea claims Megumi has died.
The government held discussions with the North Korean side on this issue, and the meeting eventually took place in a third country because the Yokotas had been cautious about visiting North Korea, fearing that the meeting could be used to draw a curtain on the abduction issue.
The informal meeting between director-level officials of the Japanese and North Korean foreign ministries was held March 3 in Shenyang, northeastern China, on the sidelines of a meeting between Red Cross officials from the two countries. This was the first meeting in about 16 months between Japanese and North Korean government officials, the previous meeting taking place in November 2012.
By allowing Kim He Gyung to travel to Mongolia to see her grandparents, it is believed that North Korea aimed to show its positive stance toward discussions with the Japanese government, including resolving the abduction issue.
The Japanese and North Korean governments are expected to have a similar informal meeting on Wednesday and Thursday in Shenyang, in tandem with another meeting between Red Cross officials from the two countries.
Some government officials believe these informal meetings will soon be upgraded to official interactions between director general-level officials of the two countries’ foreign ministries. The Japanese government aims to use the Ulan Bator meeting as a step toward setting up an official government meeting on the abduction issue.