North Korea, Japan agree to investigate abductions and lift sanctions

May 29, 2014

SEOUL (Yonhap) — North Korea and Japan agreed to carry out a full-scale investigation into the abduction of Japanese citizens and lift sanctions against the North at ongoing talks in Sweden, the North’s state-run media said Thursday.

“The DPRK side 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 mission persons,” said a report carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pyongyang’s official name.

“It agreed to set up the ‘special investigation committee’ invested with a special mandate and inform the Japanese side of the survey and confirmation when necessary. The Japanese side agreed to discuss the course of action and take necessary measures in the direction of sending them back to Japan.”

The two countries are holding senior official-level talks in the Swedish capital of Stockholm to discuss issues including Japanese nationals kidnapped decades ago by the North. The issue has been one of the key hurdles for diplomatic normalization between the two neighboring countries.

When the special committee is set up, Japan will lift sanctions against North Korea and give humanitarian aid to the reclusive country “at an appropriate time.”

“The Japanese side voiced its intent to finally lift the sanctions against the DPRK which it has applied independently at present,” said the report.

Japan has prohibited human exchanges and money transaction between the two countries, and banned North Korea-flagged ships from arriving at Japanese ports.

Along with the efforts to solve the abduction issue, the two nations will continue discussions on the normalization of diplomatic relations.

“The Japanese side again clarified its will to settle its inglorious past, solve the pending issues and normalize the relations together with the DPRK side,” said the KCNA report.