Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl who was kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1977 when she was 13, is still alive, according to a North Korean defector in South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.
Park Sun-young, a lawmaker of South Korea’s opposition Liberty Forward Party, was quoted as saying that the North Korean defector made the remark in a videotaped testimony, Yonhap reported.
North Korea abducted at least 17 Japanese citizens throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, and the abductions remain a contentious issue between Japan and North Korea.
North Korea returned what it claimed to be Megumi’s remains in 1994, and said she had committed suicide. But DNA analysis of the remains by Japanese authorities were inconclusive. Megumi’s parents and other advocates believe she is still be alive.
The Yokotas celebrated Megumi’s 47th birthday last Wednesday with a ceremony focusing on the abduction issue in their hometown of Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Yokota’s mother Sakie noted that North Korea took 20 years to acknowledge abducting Megumi, and expressed hope that another breakthrough would come with time.
Yonhap reported that the defector said Megumi could not be allowed to leave North Korea because she was in possession of sensitive information.