Yasushi Chimura, abducted to North Korea from Japan in 1978, told a Japanese government fact-finding mission to Pyongyang last week that a senior North Korean official explained to him that young Japanese were needed to revolutionize and reunify the Korean Peninsula.

According to a transcript of the mission’s interview with Chimura, the 47-year-old said the official also apologized to him for abducting him and other Japanese.

“He said that under normal circumstances, they should have persuaded the Japanese to come, but said it was probably unlikely the Japanese would have agreed to come after hearing an explanation of the situation as it is,” Chimura told the mission.

The official said the North Koreans thus had no choice but to abduct the Japanese. However, he acknowledged that it was the “wrong method,” according to Chimura’s account.

Chimura, who was taken from Obama, Fukui Prefecture, along with then fiancee Fukie Hamamoto, said he and Hamamoto, also 47, were initially separated for a year and four months before they were allowed to meet again. They eventually got married.

Both Chimura and Hamamoto said North Korean agents had told them separately they had sent the other back to Japan, so the two were surprised to be reunited, according to the transcript.

The couple, now living in Pyongyang with their three children, are among 13 Japanese people the North Korean government has acknowledged were either abducted or lured to the North between 1977 and 1983.

The Japanese mission, which traveled to the North Korean capital for four days until last Tuesday, interviewed the two as well as three other surviving Japanese. Pyongyang claims the remaining eight have died.