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Ex-NK Spy, Family of Japanese Abductee to Meet

Posted March. 12, 2009 02:40,   


A former North Korean spy and the family of a Japanese woman kidnapped by the North will meet tomorrow in Busan.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone yesterday announced tomorrow’s meeting between Kim Hyon-hui, who was behind the 1987 bombing of Korean Air Flight 858, and the relatives of Yaeko Taguchi, whose name in North Korea is Ri Un Hye.

Among those expected to attend are Taguchi’s older brother Shigeo Iizuka, who heads a group of families of Japanese kidnapped by the North, and her eldest son Koichiro Iizuka.

Officials from both South Korea and Japan will also be present at the meeting.

Taguchi was kidnapped in June 1978. Kim lived with her for two years in the North to learn Japanese and the two became close friends.

In January, Kim told NHK that she wanted to meet Koichiro Iizuka to tell him about his mother. Seoul and Tokyo then began efforts to facilitate the meeting.

In an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo, Koichiro Iizuka, who was a year old when his mother was taken from him, said, “I want to ask Kim what my mother was like.”

Pyongyang claims Taguchi died in 1986 in a car accident, but Tokyo says she is most likely still alive.

The meeting is expected to draw more attention to the North’s past abductions of Japanese nationals.

After a meeting between families of Japanese kidnap victims and a national group for saving the abductees, Shigeo Iizuka expressed his commitment to keep fighting for his cause, saying, “We want to invite Kim to Japan to solidify mutual trust.”

Due to security issues, South Korea and Japan limited the number of official reporters to 100 -- 50 Japanese, 30 South Korean and 20 foreign.

After news of the meeting came out, Japanese reporters hurriedly sought to make reservations at several major hotels in Busan. Three hundred Japanese reporters are expected to go to the port city to cover the story.

jkmas@donga.com toto@donga.com