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Friday 9 December 2016

Schoolgirl abducted by North Korea 34 years ago is 'still alive'

Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo

Published 11/10/2011 | 05:00

A JAPANESE woman kidnapped more than three decades ago by North Korea at the age of 13 is still alive, it has been claimed.

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Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korean agents as she made her way home from school in 1977, was previously reported by the communist state to have committed suicide 16 years ago.

However, Park Sun-young, a member of South Korea's opposition Liberty Forward Party, claimed a North Korean defector has made a videotaped testimony confirming Ms Yokota is still alive. The defector claimed Ms Yokota could not be returned to Japan because she was aware of too many politically sensitive state secrets.

Nine years ago, Kim Jong-il apologised to Japan for 13 abductions, before returning five abductees and producing evidence which claimed to prove the rest had died.

North Korea claimed Ms Yokota committed suicide in 1994 following mental illness problems, before returning what the state said were her cremated remains to Japan.

Birthday

However, DNA tests proved inconclusive and her family have always reiterated their belief Ms Yokota was still being held hostage in North Korea.

The latest reports that she may still be alive 34 years after her abduction came only days after her family celebrated her 47th birthday with a ceremony in their home town Kawasaki City in Kanagawa prefecture.

More than 750 people attended the event, during which Ms Yokota's favourite song 'Oboro no Tsukiyo' was recited, a cake was presented and prayers made for her safe return.

The abduction issue has been a source of political tension in relations between North Korea and Japan for decades.

Last weekend, Prime Minister Yoshiko Noda outlined his intention to visit North Korea in order to help resolve the issue following a meeting with relatives of abducted citizens. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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