Takuya Yokota
Takuya Yokota shows a picture of his sister Megumi Yokota, a Japanese national abducted by North Korean agents decades ago as a schoolgirl, on his smartphone during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan October 26, 2017 Kim Kyung-Hoon/REUTERS

The family of a young Japanese girl abducted by North Korea in 1977 hopes that President Donald Trump could be the key to getting her back or providing closure, according to NBC News Thursday.

Megumi Yokota was only 13 years old when she was abducted walking home from badminton practice. She was one of more than a dozen Japanese people abducted by North Korea from 1977 to 1983. Trump, who begins a 12-day trip to Asia on Friday, will meet with the families of several of these abductees when he’s in Japan.

Megumi Yokota’s 49-year-old brother, Tetsuya Yokota, spoke with NBC News and believes that Trump’s tough talk and hardline stance with North Korea could help his family get her back or have their questions answered.

“He seems willing to apply very strong pressure, and he always goes through with what he says,” said Tetsuya Yokota. “If he listens to our appeal … even if it doesn’t lead to a direct rescue, I firmly believe it will definitely lead to that result indirectly.”

North Korea claimed that Megumi Yokota killed herself in 1994, but many believe she is still alive. North Korea sent what it claimed to be her cremated remains back to her family, but Japanese DNA testing concluded the remains were not hers.

Megumi Yokota’s family fears that time is running out. The woman’s parents are frail and in their 80’s and would like to see their daughter or at least learn what became of her.

It was a conspiracy theory that North Korea was behind the disappearance until it admitted to them in 2002. The move was an attempt to have better relations with Japan, but it backfired and caused widespread anger at North Korea’s human rights violations. North Korea abducted people to teach the Japanese language and culture to their spies, and for older abductees, to steal their identities.

North Korea admitted to 13 abductions, but Japan claims at least 17 people were abducted. Some researchers believe there could have been many more. Five of the abductees who were still alive returned to Japan in 2002. North Korea claims the other eight are dead.

Former President’s George W. Bush and Barack Obama also met with the Yokota family.

“It’s an opportunity that someone like President Trump, who has the world’s attention, is visiting Japan,” said Tetsuya Yokota. “We cannot let people forget about this issue.”​