Police sent investigators to Britain on Sunday to look into the case of a Japanese woman who went missing in Europe in 1983 and was allegedly abducted to North Korea.
Investigators from the Metropolitan Police Department and the National Police Agency will also visit Denmark and Croatia after Britain to seek the cooperation of local investigative authorities in the case of Keiko Arimoto, a former student at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies who was 23 when she vanished, police said.
Earlier this month, police asked for information from Arimoto’s host family in London, where she studied, and asked British authorities to provide them with documentation such as copies of her arrival and departure records.
Arimoto was taken to Copenhagen from London in mid-July 1983 and introduced to Kimihiro Abe, 54 — one of nine hijackers who forced a Japan Airlines plane to land in North Korea in 1970 — and a North Korean diplomat, according to recent court testimony by Megumi Yao, 46, former wife of one of the hijackers.
In the Croatian capital of Zagreb, the hijackers, members of Japan’s Red Army Faction radical group, reportedly discussed specific ways to abduct Arimoto.
The Japanese investigators will brief authorities in the three European countries on their probe of the case, including testimony given by Yao at the Tokyo District Court, police said. Based on Yao’s statements, the National Police Agency added Arimoto in March to a list of Japanese nationals believed to have been taken against their will to North Korea, and the MPD set up a team to conduct a full investigation into her disappearance.
The inclusion of Arimoto brings to 11 the number of Japanese nationals being investigated as victims of North Korean abductions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Pyongyang denies the allegations.
The issue, along with North Korea’s demands for reparations for Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the peninsula, has blocked the countries’ bilateral normalization talks since October 2000. Japan and North Korea will hold bilateral Red Cross talks on April 29 and 30 in Beijing to discuss, among other issues, Tokyo’s allegations that Pyongyang abducted Japanese nationals.
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