The 3-day summit between officials from Japan and North Korea officially began on Monday in Stockholm, Sweden, with many expecting that the main issue discussed would be the still unresolved status of Japanese nationals that were abducted by Pyongyang operatives in the 70s and 80s. This is the second official meeting with the first one happening last March and would hopefully be the first step in creating diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Facing the media before the start of the talks on Monday, the two delegations, composed of eight members each, appeared to be serious and ready to take on the task of discussing the issues that have plagued the two East Asian nations. Japanese chief delegate Junichi Ihara, who heads the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau said that they are looking to having more “forward-looking talks” based on all the things they discussed during the first round last March. He emphasized that this time around they are looking at resolving the issues by “frankly and seriously discussing broad matters of mutual interest.”
For his part, Song Il Ho, the head of the North Korean delegation, said that they are looking at having wide-ranging talks with the Japanese team that will encompass all the things that are holding back the two countries from having diplomatic and bilateral relations. It is expected that Japan will be willing to lift certain economic sanctions against the reclusive state in exchange for a commitment to fully open the investigation into what happened to the Japanese citizens who were abducted to be trained as spies. On their end, Pyongyang is still demanding that Japan compensate those Korean citizens who suffered during the colonial rule of the peninsula from 1910-145. But when it comes to the nuclear and missile testing issue, North Korea has made it clear they prefer to discuss this issue with the United States.
[ via Channel News Asia ]