It seems the Red Cross has inspired the governments of Japan and North Korea to sit down and hold formal talks for the first time in four years. Scheduled to take place on August 29th in Beijing, Japanese officials say they will discuss various issues of tension between the two nations. Just last week, the Red Cross Society of the two countries met, also in Beijing, to discuss the return of Japanese soldiers’ remains that were lost during the colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula before and during World War II.
The announcement of Japanese-North Korean talks comes close to eight months after Kim Jong-Un took over as leader of the communist nation after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il. Many hope it could be the first step towards normalized relations between the two Asian countries, however with North Korea’s resistance to abandon its nuclear weapons development, and its carrying out of a long-range missile test in April against international pressure, such an outcome is unlikely.
It is expected that these talks will focus on the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents in the past, an issue that has been a source of cold relations. The North Korean government has only admitted to the kidnapping of 13 individuals in the 1970s and 80s, but it is widely accepted that there have been many more, and while sketchy proof of their deaths have been provided, some are still believed to be alive. The topic of abductions was made an official government-to-government matter several years ago, explaining why the Red Cross talks were limited to soldiers’ remains.
[via Voice of America]