Yokota’s parents decide to delay trip to Pyongyang

The parents of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted to North Korea and reportedly died in the country after having a daughter, decided Wednesday to forgo visiting Pyongyang to see their granddaughter for the time being, according to sources.

Shigeru and Sakie Yokota agreed with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe on the matter at a Tokyo hotel, where the government spokesman met with the families of Japanese abduction victims in the morning, the sources said.

Abe talked with the families of the five abductees who returned home Tuesday for the first time since being taken to North Korea in 1978, discussing the abductees’ length of stay but failing to reach a conclusion on the matter, the sources said.

Under a government proposal, the abductees would go back to Pyongyang on a chartered plane on Oct. 27, according to one source.

But the abductees are believed to want to return to the North around Oct. 24, while their families want them to stay in Japan for a full two weeks until Oct. 28, the sources said.

North Korea has reportedly agreed that the abductees can stay for around two weeks.

Regarding the Yokotas, the government was considering having the couple fly back to Pyongyang together with the five abductees but has apparently agreed to prioritize a visit to Japan by the girl instead, the sources said.

The elderly pair earlier said they would consider traveling to North Korea to meet Kim Hye Gyong should DNA tests confirm a blood relationship. The 15-year-old girl reportedly told Japanese officials at Pyongyang airport Tuesday that she wanted to meet her grandparents.

Kyoko Nakayama, a special adviser to the Cabinet Secretariat who flew to the North Korean capital to pick up the five surviving abductees, said the girl told her she had turned up at the airport thinking her grandparents may have come along.

A government official said Tuesday that DNA experts are close to concluding that the girl is indeed Yokota’s daughter, based on tests conducted on samples of hair and blood taken from the girl and from Yokota’s family in Japan. The final results of the tests are expected at the end of October.

North Korea has told Japan that Megumi, who was abducted to North Korea from Niigata in 1977 at age 13, committed suicide in 1993.