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Relatives of Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea said Thursday they plan to visit the United States next week to seek both government and public help in settling the abduction issue.

They will make the trip as early as Monday to meet with officials and inform the American public of their plight, according to Shigeru Yokota, whose daughter, Megumi, was abducted in 1977 at age 13 and reportedly died in North Korea.

“In the United States, people do not know that much about the situation surrounding North Korea, other than the nuclear issue, so we want to talk about the abduction issue,” Yokota said.

The families said they will ask U.S. officials to arrange their schedules to make time for meetings during their stay.

Yokota said he and his wife, Sakie, will travel together with Toru Hasuike, whose brother, Kaoru, is one of the five known surviving abductees who are now back in Japan, and Teruaki Masumoto, whose sister, Rumiko, was abducted in 1978 at age 24 and, according to Pyongyang, died in North Korea.

The families said they will be joined by members of a support group and are asking the Japanese government to send a senior official to accompany them on the trip.

On Thursday, the relatives met with Michael Green, director of Asian security at the U.S. National Security Council, at a Tokyo hotel. They asked him to set up a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush or other appropriate government officials, a Japanese official said.

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