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Abe says he asked N. Korea ceremonial leader to return all abductees

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he asked North Korea’s ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam to return all Japanese nationals abducted to the country when the two had a brief chat last week at a reception ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“I strongly, directly, asked Mr. Kim Yong Nam to resolve the abduction issue, including by returning all the abductees home,” Abe said at a House of Representatives committee meeting.

Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abduction victims and suspects North Korea’s involvement in other disappearances in the 1970s and 1980s. While five of the 17 were returned in 2002, Pyongyang maintains that eight have died and the remaining four never entered the country.

Abe also took up the issue of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs with Kim, the Japanese government said after the rare exchange of words on Friday in South Korea.

==Kyodo

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