Pyongyang invited the parents of Megumi Yokota, who was just 13 years old when she was abducted in 1977 by North Korean agents, to visit the reclusive country to celebrate the first birthday of their great-granddaughter in May.
Megumi's father, 81-year-old Shigeru Yokota, made the disclosure when he addressed a meeting on North Korean abductions April 2 attended by members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
He said he and his wife Sakie, 78, received the request to visit during their trip in March to Mongolia, where they met for the first time with Kim Un Gyong, Megumi's daughter from a marriage in North Korea. Kim Un Gyong's husband and daughter also attended the family reunion.
Shigeru expressed optimism that Japan's bilateral talks with North Korea will make progress.
"I hope we will eventually be able, if not right now, to visit North Korea or have Un Gyong come over to Japan," he said. "I am looking forward to the development."
At a separate meeting held by a group of Diet members dedicated to the abduction issue in the Upper House Members' Office Building in Tokyo on the same day, Sakie Yokota revealed part of the conversations she had with Kim Un Gyong over what happened to Megumi once she was taken to North Korea.
Sakie said she brought up the topic of the human ashes that Pyongyang said were Megumi's and handed over to Japan in 2004. The ashes were later proven not to be Megumi's.
"We are convinced (Megumi) is alive," Sakie said she told Kim Un Gyong. "The ashes are fake."
"The story (about fake ashes) is a fabrication by evil-minded people in Japan," Kim Un Gyong was quoted as responding.
By MASATO TAINAKA/ Staff Writer