Tokyo police said Tuesday they have confirmed that a suspect in North Korea's 1980 abduction of Japanese national Tadaaki Hara died in 2018, the first death among 11 alleged abductors of Japanese citizens put on an international wanted list.

Tadaaki Hara. (Kyodo)

The Metropolitan Police Department's Public Security Bureau said they have confirmed Kim Kil Uk, a former principal of a North Korean school in Japan, died on March 13, 2018, in South Korea at age 90. They did not disclose the cause of his death.

Japan issued international arrest warrants for 11 people, including Kim, through the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, for their alleged involvement in Pyongyang's kidnappings of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s.

The bureau had been verifying information on the death of Kim officially provided by South Korean police via Interpol in November last year.

With the confirmation, the police said they have returned the arrest warrant for Kim issued in April 2006 to court and had his name removed from Interpol's wanted list.

Kim and former North Korean agent Shin Kwang Soo are suspected of luring Hara, then 43, from Osaka to Miyazaki Prefecture and abducting him to North Korea in June 1980.

Shin is believed to have later illegally acquired a passport purporting to be Hara and entered Japan numerous times for espionage purposes. He is believed to be aged 94 and in North Korea, although details on his whereabouts remain unknown.

Japan officially lists 17 nationals as having been abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s but suspects Pyongyang's involvement in many other disappearances.

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