A weekly magazine has sent a letter expressing regret to Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, former abductees of North Korea, for an article that claimed their 16-year-old son has a smoking habit.

The letter sent Friday by the Shukan Shincho said, “If we have, as a result of the article, caused you annoyance and hurt your feelings, we are very sorry and deeply regret it.”

But it also said, “We obtained the information about your younger son and we made the report after looking into the matter.

“We have included in the article information about the situation in North Korea, which is different from that in Japan, with commentaries from experts so as not to give a false impression to our readers.”

The June 10 edition of the Shukan Shincho hit the stores Thursday.

The letter was sent in response to a letter of protest from the Chimuras, sent Wednesday, that demanded an apology and a correction.

Yasushi Chimura, 49, said during a news conference Friday that he and his wife sent another letter of protest and demanded the correction be published in the magazine.

Chimura said that if the weekly fails to do so, he will seek redress from a government body that addresses human rights violations.

“I have asked my son, but he denied it. The report is not based on the facts and I think the report consists of defamation,” Chimura said.

The article said Fukui Prefectural Police reported to the National Police Agency that the younger son has a smoking habit and that NPA officers saw him smoking at Pyongyang airport immediately before they traveled to Japan on May 22.

The article quoted a professor as saying it is not unusual for children in North Korea to smoke, as there is no age restriction there.