U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Thursday held her first meeting with the parents of Megumi Yokota, the symbolic victim of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals, and the leader of the group of relatives of the abductees.
During the hour-long meeting with Kennedy at her official residence in central Tokyo, the relatives asked her to help settle the decades-long abduction issue.
The daughter of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, who assumed her post last November, met with Shigeru Yokota, 81, father of Megumi, Sakie, 77, her mother, and Shigeo Iizuka, 75, the family group leader and elder brother of another abductee, Yaeko Taguchi.
Earlier in the day, Kennedy held talks with Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of the abduction issue.
Japanese officials said Kennedy told Furuya that the abductions by North Korea are an important issue and she wants to learn more about them.
Yokota was abducted to North Korea in 1977 at the age of 13, when she was a junior high school student in Niigata Prefecture. The government says 17 Japanese nationals were abducted to North Korea, mainly during the 1970s and 1980s.
In September 2002 when then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang, North Korea admitted to having abducted 13 Japanese nationals. North Korea later allowed five abductees to
return home but said the remaining eight were dead. Among the eight was Yokota, whose parents do not believe Pyongyang’s version of events.