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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Yokota's husband from South, test shows

Revelation on abductee issue comes amid efforts to restart six-party talks

Staff writer

The government said Tuesday that DNA analysis has confirmed that the husband of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1977, is a South Korean who was also abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s.

News photo
The government says the person in this photo, abductee Kim Young Nam of South Korea, is almost certainly the husband of abductee Megumi Yokota of Japan.

The results, which contradict Pyongyang's statements Yokota's husband is North Korean, are likely to spur Japan to further pressure the North to provide details about Yokota -- whom the North has said is dead -- and other missing abductees.

Should North Korea fail to provide sufficient information and return abductees who are allegedly still alive, domestic political pressure on the Japanese government to take a harsher line on Pyongyang is likely to increase, as relatives of the abductees, who have consistently drawn media attention, have called for economic sanctions.

"The outcome shows that the North Korea's abduction is a multinational issue," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told a news conference. "We will ask the South Korean government for cooperation on the issue."

Tokyo plans to hand over the DNA samples to South Korea, which will conduct its own DNA testing.

Japan informed Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's top envoy to the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, about the results of the DNA test and demanded it take a "sincere stance" in investigating the fate of the abductees.

Kim is in Tokyo for a two-day academic forum on security issues in Northeast Asia.

Negotiators from the U.S., China, Russia and Japan also met in Tokyo on the sidelines of the conference, hoping to restart the stalled six-party talks.

But Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the lead U.S. negotiator, continued to reject a bilateral meeting with his North Korean counterpart, demanding that Pyongyang return to the multilateral talks without conditions.

Last year, Charles Jenkins, a former U.S. soldier who defected to North Korea in 1965, and the husband of a Japanese abductee, has said in his memoirs that he met or witnessed many people in North Korea whom he believed were abductees from Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Japan said that two separate tests provide almost 100 percent proof that Kim Young Nam, a South Korean abducted in 1978 while in high school, is Yokota's husband.

It is uncertain, however, whether the man is the same one identified by Pyongyang as Kim Chol Jun, whom North Korea said is Yokota's husband.

Tokyo is still looking into this point.

Japan has been testing DNA samples it took from relatives of five South Korean men allegedly abducted by North Korea in February to see if any of them match the DNA of Yokota's daughter, Kim Hye Gyong.

One of the five samples matched the daughter's DNA.

North Korea has told Japan that Yokota married a man named Kim Chol Jun in 1986 and gave birth a daughter in 1987, and that Megumi committed suicide in 1993 while being treated for depression.

"Abduction is a crime that cannot be forgiven," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters later in the day. North Korea "should sincerely respond to (Japan's) efforts to investigate the abductions so they won't happen again."

Meanwhile, Yokota's parents said they are still hoping for further developments in their daughter's case.

"It is important that things are being resolved step by step. I hope the abduction issue will continue to move forward," Sakie Yokota said after the government gave her and her husband, Shigeru, the DNA test results.

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The Japan Times

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