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.