The March 17 front-page article “Yokota’s parents, child meet” states that DNA tests conducted in Japan on cremated remains from North Korea in 2004 “disproved” that the remains were of Megumi Yokota (abducted by North Korean agents in 1977).

From everything I have been able to find on the Internet, DNA testing of cremated remains is unreliable. My sources include a 2004 paper from the Institute of Legal Medicine, Kiel, Germany. It concludes that “STR typing of cremation remains has to be considered … not suitable for forensic purposes (e.g., identification, paternity testing).”

Thus the Japan government’s claim needs to be qualified and preferably include a description of the DNA testing technique and an estimate of the certainty. Repetition of an unqualified claim leads one to wonder if North Korea is telling the truth.

mark callow

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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