BEIJING – North Korea knew of eight war-displaced Japanese people remaining its territory after 2004, but seven of them have already died, a pro-Pyongyang paper said Wednesday.
The online version of the Choson Sinbo newspaper, published in Japan, said the only one alive is a woman named Ruriko Arai, citing a North Korean official who was involved in investigating the status of such people following an accord between Pyongyang and Tokyo.
It is the first time that North Korea has disclosed the numbers since Pyongyang set up a special team in 2014 to look into the whereabouts of all Japanese nationals, including those suspected of being abducted by its agents in the 1970s and 1980s.
The 84-year-old Arai lives in North Korea’s eastern coastal city of Hamhung.
When the woman, whose Korean name is Ri Yu Gum, spoke to the Japanese press in April at her home, she expressed a desire to visit the grave of her parents in Japan.
North Korea announced in February last year it had disbanded the special investigation committee in response to the Japanese government’s decision to impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.
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