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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Mystery of Japan abductee deepens
North Korea said this photo showed Megumi Yokota as a young woman (file photo)
Megumi Yokota's parents believe she is still alive
DNA tests have shown that the husband of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea is almost certainly a kidnapped South Korean, Japanese officials say.

The Pyongyang government has previously indicated that Megumi Yokota's husband was North Korean.

The findings will fuel speculation that Pyongyang is not telling the truth about Ms Yokota, whom many Japanese hope may still be alive.

Megumi Yokota is one of 13 Japanese the North kidnapped to train its spies.

The North says Ms Yokota, abducted as a school girl in 1977, committed suicide.

In 2002, North Korea returned five of the Japanese nationals it admitted to abducting in the 1970s and 1980s. It said the other eight were dead.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said there was a "high probability" that Megumi Yokota's husband was Kim Young-nam, a high school student abducted in 1978.

The North Korean government says Ms Yokota, who married a man in North Korea and gave birth to a daughter, killed herself in 1994 while being treated for depression.

Pyongyang returned what it said were Ms Yokota's remains to Japan in November 2004, but Japanese officials said tests showed the remains came from a number of people and were not Ms Yokota's.

DNA samples

Japanese officials met Ms Yokota's daughter, who lives in North Korea, during a visit to Pyongyang in 2002 and took a DNA sample from her.

Spokesman Shinzo Abe said her DNA has now been tested against samples from the relatives of five missing South Koreans.

The one taken from the family of Kim Young-nam showed he and the girl were likely to be father and daughter, the ministry said.

Japanese officials met a man called Kim Chol-jun who the North Korean authorities said was Ms Yokota's husband during a visit to Pyongyang in 2004, but they were not permitted to take DNA samples from him.

The ministry statement did not rule out the possibility that Kim Chol-jun and Kim Young-nam were the same person, the Associated Press news agency said.

The issue of missing Japanese abductees, followed avidly by the Japanese public, is a major obstacle to the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

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08 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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11 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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