For their first official meeting with North Korea in 16 months since Shinzo Abe became prime minister, Japan wasted no time in opening the issue North Koreans abducting some Japanese citizens during the 70s and 80s. North Korean officials seem more forthcoming nowadays and has announced its willingness to launch new investigations on the matter after the two countries’ officials met in Beijing last week.
It seems that North Korea is more willing now to open the investigation on abducted Japanese nationals in exchange for the removal of some economic sanctions imposed on them such as the lifting of travel restrictions. In 2008, North Korea said it would re-open the case as Japan prepared to lessen sanctions but as then-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda resigned, the deal did not materialize. Last month, North Korea allowed the parents of a Japanese schoolgirl kidnapped in 1977, Megumi Yokota, to see their granddaughter. The gesture from Pyongyang was rewarded by Japan with the resumption of talks on the issue two weeks after.
While there is still no definite movement in the talks between the two nations, it would prove to be difficult for Japan to move forward with other issues if Kim Jong Un continues its nuclear and missile program, which has caused indignation in the international community, particularly with South Korea and the United States. Japan recently held a three-way summit with South Korea and U.S. after meeting with North Korea and many believe that Pyongyang is seeking to strain the relations between the three in time for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia this month.
[via Nikkei Asian Review]