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3RD LD: Japan says Yokota's husband likely S. Korean abductee+
[April 11, 2006]

3RD LD: Japan says Yokota's husband likely S. Korean abductee+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, April 11_(Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING INFO)

The Japanese government said Tuesday the husband of a Japanese national abducted by North Korea, Megumi Yokota, is most likely a South Korean national that the North also abducted.

A DNA analysis conducted on relatives of the man, Kim Young Nam, who was a 16-year-old high school student when he disappeared in 1978, showed the possibility is high that a blood relationship exists between him and Yokota's North Korean-born daughter, 18-year-old Kim Hye Gyong, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe.

"The DNA test result made it clear that Mr. Kim Young Nam is an abduction victim and married Ms. Megumi (Yokota) in North Korea," Abe said at a press conference, also suggesting the man is probably alive in North Korea.

Japan intends to call on South Korea to join hands in urging North Korea to resolve the abduction issue, which became clear to "have an international stretch," Abe said.

North Korean agents abducted Yokota in 1977 when she was 13.

Senior Japanese diplomat Kenichiro Sasae strongly urged North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, who is in Tokyo for an international academic conference, to resolve the issue when they met Tuesday afternoon, informing the North Korean of the outcome of the DNA test, Abe said.

Sasae, who heads the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, also informed South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Chun Yong Woo, who is also in Tokyo, of the result and sought Seoul's cooperation, Abe said.

The Japanese government, in turn, will help the South Korean government conduct similar DNA tests by offering DNA information on Kim Hye Gyong, Abe added.

It also conveyed the result to relatives of the South Korean man and Yokota's family before making the formal announcement, Abe said.

It remains unknown, however, if the man is identical to Kim Chol Jun, whom North Korea previously introduced to the Japanese government delegation as Yokota's husband. Tokyo is going to verify the point, Abe said.

North Korea has told Japan that Yokota married a man named Kim Chol Jun in 1986 and gave birth to a daughter in 1987. Pyongyang has said Yokota committed suicide in 1994 while being treated for depression.

Tokyo had been testing the DNA samples of hair and blood it took in February from the relatives of five South Korean men allegedly abducted by North Korea to see if the DNA of any one of them matched that of Yokota's daughter.

The Japanese government obtained DNA samples from Kim Hye Gyong following Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's landmark visit to Pyongyang in September 2002 for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

According to a South Korean group of relatives of abduction victims, the five South Korean men were abducted by North Korea between 1977 and 1978 from the southern parts of the country when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.

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