Japan and North Korea have tentatively agreed to reopen an investigation into the whereabouts of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents more than thirty years ago.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an announcement this afternoon, following three days of bilateral talks held in Stockholm from May 26th to 28th. The North Korean state news agency KCNA also published an article on the matter.
“As a result of the Japan-North Korea talks, the North Korean side promised to the Japanese side that it will make a comprehensive and overall investigation into all the Japanese, including abduction victims and missing people whose possibility of being abducted cannot be ruled out," Prime Minister Abe told reporters. "Our mission will never end until the day comes when families of all abduction victims are able to embrace their children with their own arms."
The KCNA report noted that Pyongyang has indeed “agreed to simultaneously conduct a comprehensive survey of all Japanese including the remains and graves of Japanese, remaining Japanese, Japanese spouses, victims of abduction and missing persons.”
The word "simultaneously" refers to the fact that, KCNA revealed, Japan has consented to “lift restrictions on visits of persons, lift special measure of restrictions taken against [North Korea] regarding money remittances and money carried by visitors, and lift the embargo on the entry of North Korea-flagged ships with a humanitarian mission into Japanese ports from the point of time that [North Korea] sets up a ‘special investigation committee’ for the comprehensive survey and starts it.”
The committee in question is to be charged with conducting “a survey of all Japanese, including the issue of the remains of the Japanese who died in the territory of [North Korea] before and after the year 1945 and the remaining Japanese, Japanese spouses, victims of abduction and missing Japanese.”
North Korea was represented at the talks by Ambassador of the Foreign Ministry Song Il Ho, while the Japanese delegation was led by Foreign Ministry official Junichi Ihara.