In what could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the bilateral relations between Japan and North Korea, officials from Pyongyang have committed to a re-investigation of the lives of the Japanese citizens that it had admitted to abducting in the 70s and 80s. With this in mind, Japanese officials will be sending police officers and other authorities to the hermit nation to monitor the investigation, with Tokyo mulling on whether they should station the officials there on a permanent basis or not.
In a rare meeting between officials from the two countries in Sweden – Japan does not have normal diplomatic relations with North Korea – came to an agreement about the issue of the abductees, a piece of history that has been a thorn on the relations of Pyongyang and Tokyo for decades now. According to Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, the North’s commitment to re-investigating the abductees is a big leap forward for both countries, and so is the agreement to station officials in Pyongyang to monitor the investigations. Suga iterated that the government had called for actions seen as missing from the 2008 accord, including speaking with those involved and visiting significant locations, and expressed Tokyo’s pleasure at the North’s acceptance of such requests. He also said that there might be a chance that these monitoring Japanese officials might be stationed there permanently, if it was going to help the progress of the investigations.
12 years ago, North Korea had famously admitted to abducting 13 Japanese nationals in the 70s and 80s, ostensibly to train them to become spies for their own country. When asked about what happened to these people, Pyongyang claimed that eight of them had already perished, but could not provide sufficient evidence to the truth of their claims. Tokyo believes there is a chance of some still surviving, and that the total number was higher than 13.