Photo/IllutrationTakuya Yokota, at left in front row, addresses a meeting on the abduction issue in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on April 22. His brother Tetsuya is seated next to him, and Koichiro Iizuka is at right. (Wataru Sekita)

The brother of Japan's most famous abductee to North Korea, Megumi Yokota, who was 13 years old when she was snatched in 1977, plans to meet with U.S. government officials this month to press President Donald Trump for help in resolving the longstanding issue.

Takuya Yokota is making the appeal ahead of a landmark meeting expected in May or June between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Yokota is a leading member of the association of the families of victims abducted by North Korea. He will be joined by Koichiro Iizuka, another executive of the association, whose mother, Yaeko Taguchi, was also abducted by North Korean agents in 1978.

The two men are hoping Trump will be able to persuade Kim to return their kin, as well as other abductees taken to North Korea in the 1970s and '80s.

"We want to convey fresh voices of afflicted people with the hope that we will be heard by Trump,” said Yokota, 49. Relatives of the abductees held a meeting in Tokyo on April 22 to highlight the abduction issue.

Trump promised during a joint news conference after recent summit talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he would raise the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago during his talks with Kim.

“We’re going to do everything possible to have them brought back,” he pledged.

“We were encouraged and heartened (by Trump’s words),” Yokota said.

He welcomed North Korea's recent announcement of a suspension in nuclear and missile tests, saying: “It looks as if (the abduction issue) is moving forward. But, we should not drop our guard."

Yokota also called for international sanctions against North Korea to remain in place until the nuclear and missile issues are resolved, and with the caveat that they "should continue until the abductees have returned to Japan.”

Megumi's father Shigeru Yokota, a former president of the association, used to address gatherings and lectures across the country to call for the rescue of his daughter, along with his wife Sakie, 82.

Shigeru, 86, lost his power of speech and ability to walk about two years ago, and has been hospitalized since earlier this month.

“There is not much time left for (the victims’) parents. We have no option but to take over their task to continue to call for their rescue," Yokota said. "We keep asking how many more years it will take us to resolve the problem, and we are angry that it is taking so long."

“We want the Japanese government to solve the problem as soon as possible by maintaining pressure and holding behind-the-scenes meetings.”

Japan believes that at least 17 Japanese were abducted to North Korea. Five abductees were allowed to return to Japan in late 2002, but not Megumi. North Korea says she is dead.