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Japan seeks S. Korea's help in confirming fate of woman abducted by Pyongyang

All Headlines 17:33 January 30, 2009

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan are in consultations to arrange a meeting between a former North Korean agent and the family of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea decades ago, an informed source said Friday.

Akitaka Saiki, the head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, asked Seoul to help the family members of Yaeko Taguchi, who was abducted by North Korean agents at the age of 22, interview Kim Hyeon-hee, a former death-row inmate involved in the bombing of a Korean Air passenger plane while in flight in 1987.

Kim's testimony may provide a clue to the fate of Taguchi, who North Korea claims died in 1986 after a car accident.

Taguchi is known to have taught Kim Japanese language. Kim claimed earlier that Taguchi was alive at least until 1987.

"Director-general Saiki asked for cooperation in his meeting with South Korean foreign ministry officials during his two-day trip to Seoul this week," the source said. "Accordingly, South Korean and Japanese authorities are consulting on when and how of the meeting."

The two nations are also expected to discuss the issue in their foreign ministerial talks on Feb. 11 in Seoul, added the source.

Japan said it has confirmed the abduction of 17 Japanese citizens by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s. The North admitted to only 13 and allowed five of them to return to Japan in 2002, claiming the others had died.


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