The Japanese government said Friday that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) investigations into the kidnapping of Japanese nationals will not take more than one year, although a precise timeline has not been set.
“We haven’t confirmed details such as the timetable for the probe, but we told them that it can’t take too much time, and they are aware of it,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference earlier Friday.
Suga’s announcement comes after three days of talks between representatives from Japan and the DPRK in Sweden, and according to government officials here, was the most positive engagement between Pyongyang and Tokyo for a long while.
Japan, for its part has agreed to lift some of its sanction on the DPRK, including those pertaining to human travel, wire transfers and vessels entering ports here.
The sanction easing will come into effect when Pyongyang fully launches the probe, government officials here said Friday, with Abe himself urging the DPRK to do its utmost to resolve the abductions issue.
“We were able to open a long-closed door in negotiations for a chance to rescue abduction victims,” Abe said Friday. “I would like to urge North Korea to keep its promise.”
In 2002 the DPRK admitted to having abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, but has repeatedly stated since that the matter has already been settled with Japan, with five of the abductees allowed to return home to Japan and the remaining eight being declared dead.
With no evidence of the dead bodies being produced by the DPRK, suspicions have grown in Japan that there may have been further abductions and Abe has stated that Japan will continue to tackle the problem until it’s fully resolved.
Along with Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, Abe stated that Japan’s mission “will never end until the day comes when families of all abduction victims are able to embrace their children with their own arms.”
In March, the DPRK permitted the daughter of a Japanese woman who was abducted in the 1970s and later died to travel to Mongolia to meet her grandparents, who had flown in from Japan.
The two side’s three-day meeting in Stockholm this week, comes on the back of official talks on the issue held by both parties in China in March.