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Japan to lift some sanctions on North Korea

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-03

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that Japan would lift some of its sanctions against North Korea following talks on the Cold War kidnapping of Japanese nationals.

The lifting of the sanctions is in return for North Korea’s promise to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

Abe said Japan would make utmost efforts for a comprehensive solution to the decades-old issue of the missing Japanese citizens.

“This is just a start,” he told reporters at the prime minister’s office. “We will make every effort to achieve a complete resolution of this issue.”

Abe said Tokyo judged Pyongyang had shown sufficient willing in resolving the row and that this needed to be reciprocated.

“In accordance with the principle of action to action, we will lift part of the measures taken by Japan,” Abe told reporters.

“The special investigative committee will be quite large” and chaired by a close aide to the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un, a Japanese government official involved in the negotiations told AFP.

Pyongyang is expected to use the list to confirm their whereabouts, while Tokyo will analyse it to see if any names match those of reported abductees, it said.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens to train its spies in Japanese language and customs.

Five of the abductees returned home but Pyongyang said – without producing credible evidence – that the eight others had died, provoking an uproar in Japan, where there are suspicions that perhaps even hundreds of others were taken.

Boost for Pyongyang

The sanctions in question are additional to international strictures imposed after UN Security Council resolutions in the wake of nuclear and missile tests carried out by the North.

Even a partial thaw could provide Pyongyang with a small but potentially meaningful boost to its recent efforts at promoting international tourism and, perhaps farther down the road, increasing trade.

News reports earlier on Thursday said Tokyo will lift a ban on North Koreans entering Japan, waive the reporting requirement for remitting more than 100,000 yen ($1,000) in cash and end the prohibition on some North Korean ships entering Japanese ports.

Japan and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic ties and relations between the two have been testy for decades.

But the late warming – despite several recent missile tests by the North – comes as Pyongyang appears to have fallen out of favour with Beijing, its long-term patron and protector.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Seoul on Thursday hoping to bolster commercial and diplomatic ties, in a visit largely viewed as a snub to the North.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-07-03

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