Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that Tokyo is arranging a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and the parents of a Japanese national abducted by North Korean agents during the president’s planned visit to Japan early next month.
“When I asked President Trump (in September) to meet the parents of Megumi (Yokota) and the families of (other) abduction victims during his visit to Japan, he accepted on the spot. He promised he will do his best to rescue the Japanese abduction victims,” Abe said in a campaign rally in Niigata Prefecture for the Oct. 22 Lower House election.
Niigata Prefecture is where Megumi, then a 13-year-old girl, was abducted on her way home from school in 1977. Her parents are Shigeru Yokota, 84, and his wife, Sakie, 81.
Abe said he made the request during a meeting with Trump in New York following the U.S. president’s address to the U.N. General Assembly at which Trump made a reference to Megumi in condemning North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
“A speech by the U.S. president at the U.N. General Assembly gains global attention. The reference to Megumi made me really happy,” Abe said.
The White House has announced that Trump will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines between Nov. 3-14 amid rising regional tensions due to North Korea’s nuclear threat.
Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abduction victims and suspects North Korea’s involvement in the disappearance of other citizens.
While five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002, Pyongyang maintains that eight, including Megumi, have died and the other four never entered the country.