TOKYO (Reuters) - 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, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
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, who was abducted in 1977 on her way home from school at the age of 13.
The Foreign 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 to North Korea.
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.
Japan suspects there are more abduction cases that North Korea has not revealed and the issue has been a major obstacle to normalizing relations between them.
Japan has demanded more information about abductees while North Korea has said the case is closed.
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.
Officials from the Japanese and North Korean affiliates of the Red Cross held talks this month on the return of the remains of Japanese nationals from North Korea.
Formal talks between Japan and North Korea have been suspended since North Korea launched a rocket which it said put a weather satellite into orbit in December 2012.
The United States, 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 United States.
Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Robert Birsel