The resumption of the formal talks between Japan and North Korea started on Sunday in Beijing, with the chief delegate from Pyongyang asking participants to have a “candid and serious attitude”. This was their first meeting in more than a year, after Japan protested a series of missile and nuclear tests in 2012.
The talks, held at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, were led by Song Il-ho, the North Korean ambassador for Japan relations and Junichi Ihara, chief of the Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau at Japan’s foreign ministry. Song compared the renewal of the talks to the start of spring, saying that it is “meaningful” to hold the talks “when flowers bloom and trees come into leaf.” Ihara reiterated that Japan was very “pleased” that the dialogue table is once again open between the two North Asian countries and hopes that they will be able to discuss several concerns “in a serious and candid manner” as well.
While the two did not discuss the agenda when they faced reporters ahead of the talks, one of the expected major issues to be tackled is the abduction of Japanese nationals in the 70s and 80s. This is a big factor in the lack of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Tokyo, as North Korea believes the issue to have been closed in 2002 when they admitted to abducting 13 nationals. However, Japan believes that they did not fully disclose the status of these abductees and that some of them are still alive, contrary to Pyongyang’s position. Another key factor up for discussion is North Korea’s newest test-firing of two medium-range ballistic missiles, which the UN Security Council condemned as it violates the ban imposed on such activities.
[ via Global Post ]