Deal reached on abducted Japanese
North Korea and Japan have agreed on terms for a new investigation into Pyongyang’s abduction of Japanese people in the 1970s and ‘80s, Japanese news media reported, opening the way for Tokyo to lift some travel sanctions.
The deal, hammered out early today after two days of talks in China, would see North Korea complete the investigation in the next few months, and would give Japan access to documents, interviews and related sites to verify the results, Kyodo News agency reported.
Once an investigation is started, Japan will allow chartered flights between the two countries and lift restrictions on visits between them, Kyodo quoted Japanese negotiator Akitaka Saiki as saying.
“This committee will carry out the investigation in a quick manner and will, as much as possible, finish it by this fall,” he reportedly said.
The dispute over the fate of 17 people abducted to help train spies in Japan’s language and culture is an emotional issue for many Japanese and a major obstacle to establishing diplomatic ties between the two wary neighbors.
North Korea admitted in 2002 that its agents had abducted 13 Japanese, including a 13-year-old girl, Megumi Yokota, snatched on her way home from school in 1977. Five of the abductees returned home that year, but Pyongyang says the others, including Yokota, are dead. Tokyo wants more information about the eight and four others it says were also kidnapped, and wants any survivors sent home.