• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Wednesday he had made a new resolution to bring back as soon as possible Japanese nationals kidnapped decades ago by North Korea.

Abe made the statement after meeting with members of a group representing families of abductees at the prime minister’s office, including Shigeo Iizuka, 78, whose younger sister Yaeko Taguchi was kidnapped in 1978 when she was 22 years old.

The abductees’ kin called for the repatriation of all their missing loved ones within the year as their families are aging.

Abe said he would do all he can to “have them home as soon as possible.”

Sakie Yokota — the 81-year old mother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted 40 years ago at the age of 13 — also attended the meeting.

“I expressed my opinion that I am beyond words as things have not changed even after so many efforts have been made,” Yokota said following the meeting, adding that she wants Japanese nationals to know how discussions with North Korea are progressing.

The government officially lists 17 people as abduction victims but suspects North Korea’s involvement in more disappearances.

Five of the abductees were repatriated in 2002.

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