Teen confirmed as daughter of Megumi Yokota

DNA tests have confirmed that a 15-year-old girl living in Pyongyang is the daughter of an abductee who has reportedly died in North Korea, government officials said Thursday.

The girl’s name is Kim Hye Gyong, and her mother was Megumi Yokota, who was 13 when she was abducted in November 1977 in the city of Niigata.

North Korean officials have said Yokota killed herself in 1993 after a bout of severe depression.

A previous blood test had already indicated a biological relationship, but Yokota’s parents asked the government to conduct further tests and submitted a tissue sample from Megumi obtained at birth.

Following the news, Yokota’s parents, Shigeru, 69, and his wife, Sakie, 66, revealed pictures of their granddaughter to the media that a Japanese government official had taken in Pyongyang during a fact-finding mission.

“It’s as though we’re seeing the daughter we’ve been searching for,” Sakie said. “To think that a child of similar age to our daughter (when she went missing) is alive and well in North Korea.”

“It’s been confirmed with a certainty of 99.999 percent that a parent-child relationship exists” between Megumi and Kim, Shigeru said. “This is proof that Megumi was living in North Korea, and it is a joy for us. I’d like to write a letter (to Kim) as early as tomorrow.”

The National Research Institute of Police Science conducted the analysis on a tissue sample and a blood sample from Kim.

The Yokotas said they have asked the Japanese government to bring their granddaughter to Japan. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters at his office on Thursday that his government will do its best to do so.

The Yokotas also reiterated that they adhere to their belief that their daughter is still alive, even though the confirmation of the blood tie proves that what Pyongyang told them about their daughter is at least partially true.

“I guess North Korea cannot bring out those people who are said to be dead now because they know the country’s secrets,” Megumi’s father said.

North Korean explanations and remarks by the five known surviving abductees, who were snatched to North Korea in 1978 and have been on a homecoming visit since Oct. 15, suggest Megumi has already died.