Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A Japanese citizen who was possibly abducted to North Korea in 1978 could still be alive, according to a Japanese press report on Friday.
Minoru Tanaka, who was 28 when he disappeared, did enter North Korea after he went missing decades ago, Kyodo News reported.
Shigeru Kitamura, the head of Japan's Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, held confidential meetings with the North Koreans on Oct. 6 and 7 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where he obtained new information about the abductees, according to the report.
Kim Song Hye, head of North Korea's United Front Department in the Korean Workers' Party, previously met with Kitamura in July to discuss the abductions.
It is unclear whether Kim was the point of contact for the most recent meeting in early October.
"I heard they discussed how the abduction issue should be solved between Japan and North Korea," an unnamed senior Japanese official told Kyodo.
Sources tell Kyodo Japan is seeking to open a liaison office in Pyongyang.
But the most important revelation was acknowledgement from the North Koreans regarding the whereabouts of Tanaka.
North Korea has previously denied Tanaka, who would now be about 68, was taken to the relatively isolated state.
Kyodo's source said they received confirmation from North Korean representatives that Tanaka did enter North Korea.
Tanaka could still be alive, according to the report.
The Japanese government has been increasingly turning to secret channels to communicate with North Korea.
Publicly, North Korea continues to condemn Japan, most recently for reinterpreting its Constitution to allow Japan's self-defense forces to provide support for international combat.
"The Japanese Constitution revision is a path for the country to become a warmongering nation," KCNA stated Wednesday.
Abe has yet to meet with Kim Jong Un.