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N. Korea, Japan to Reinvestigate Abductions

Posted August. 14, 2008 06:32,   


North Korea and Japan set guidelines yesterday for a new investigation into Pyongyang’s kidnapping of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s.

Japanese media said the agreement came at a working-level meeting of the six-party talks in Shenyang, China, on normalization of relations between the two nations.

The two countries reportedly agreed to quickly set up a new investigative committee and complete the probe this fall. Upon the launch of the probe, Tokyo will lift sanctions on individual travel and charter flights between the countries.

In return, Pyongyang will allow its officials to contact Japanese counterparts to confirm the findings.

North Korean Ambassador to Tokyo Song Il Ho and Japanese Foreign Ministry senior official Akitaka Saiki attended the meeting Tuesday and yesterday.

Pyongyang and Tokyo also discussed the repatriation of Japanese radicals who hijacked a Japan Airlines flight to North Korea in 1970 and North Korean access to Japanese ports. They reached no agreement, however.

The Japanese government hailed the accord as meaningful progress, but Japanese media remained skeptical whether it will help find Japanese abductees and their safe return to Japan.

The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said, “The agreement was made because North Korea accepted guidelines demanded by Japan, which values probe results satisfying the Japanese people. There is worry, however, over a repeat of past experience."

"A reinvestigation promise was made between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and then Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro on his second visit to Pyongyang in 2004, but it failed to bear fruit.”