Tokyo might ask Pyongyang at bilateral talks next week for an interview with the North Korean husband of Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota, Ichiro Aisawa, senior vice foreign minister, said Thursday.

“It is certain that her husband is alive in North Korea,” Aisawa told a news conference. “I think it is necessary to directly interview” him.

Yokota was 13 when she was kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1977.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had abducted 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, and that eight of them, including Yokota, have since died.

Japan remains unconvinced and is asking for further information on the fate of the eight, along with two others whom Tokyo believes were similarly kidnapped. North Korea denies the two ever entered the country.

According to the North Korean account, Yokota married Kim Chol Jun in 1986 and committed suicide at a hospital in 1993.

The couple had a daughter, Kim Hye Gyong, who has been confirmed as her offspring through a DNA test. Japan has not been able to get in touch with the husband.

Talking to the husband would be the key to obtaining correct information on Yokota’s fate, Aisawa said.

Japan has been irritated that effectively no development has been reported by North Korea during the last three rounds of bilateral talks on the 10 missing Japanese.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il promised to launch a fresh investigation into their fates during a May summit with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Pyongyang.

Senior officials of Japan and North Korea will meet in Pyongyang between Tuesday and Friday.

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