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U.S. Embassy official inspects abduction site in Niigata

Kashiwazaki, Niigata Pref., Jan. 20 (Jiji Press)–A senior official of the U.S. embassy in Japan looked around Thursday a beach in Niigata Prefecture where Kaoru Hasuike and his wife Yukiko were abducted to North Korea in 1978.

Booyeon Lee became the first U.S. embassy official in charge of issues involving the reclusive Asian country to visit the site in the central Japan city of Kashiwazaki, according to the city government.

Lee is scheduled to go to the city of Niigata the following day to inspect the place where Megumi Yokota was kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1977, when she was 13.

After being briefed on the Hasuike couple’s abduction case by Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai, Lee, in charge of North Korea issues at the embassy’s political section for four years, was quoted as saying that she got a stronger sense of the issue.

At a meeting with Hasuike, who was brought back to Japan in 2002 together with his wife, later on Thursday, Lee stressed that the U.S. government takes the abduction issue very seriously and will endeavor to resolve it immediately while continuing to coordinate with the Japanese government.

After the meeting, Hasuike noted that the U.S. embassy official’s visit to the abduction site will give a strong support for the resolution of the longstanding issue.

“I strongly hope that the Japanese government will also take a visible approach (to the problem),” he said.

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