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Friday, Sep. 2, 2011

Yokotas: Keep minister for abductions


YOKOHAMA — The parents of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted to North Korea in 1977, have urged Prime Minister-elect Yoshihiko Noda not to change the minister in charge of the abduction issue until the matter is resolved.

"It's difficult for Japan to steadily negotiate with North Korea as the prime minister is replaced frequently," Shigeru Yokota, 78, said following Noda's election as prime minister Tuesday.

"At least the minister in charge of the abduction issue should be left unchanged until the issue is resolved," he said in Yokohama.

Kansei Nakano has been state minister in charge of the abduction issue since January.

Sakie Yokota, 75, said she feels sad whenever the minister is replaced, adding, "A single person should stay in charge of the issue."

Megumi Yokota was abducted by North Korean agents when she was 13 years old. She is among 17 Japanese identified by the government as having been abducted to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. Five returned home in 2002.

Japan has urged North Korea to provide information about the whereabouts of the others, including Yokota. North Korea says she committed suicide.

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