- Title: JAPAN / FILE: Japan announces partial lifting of ban on North Korea
- Date: 13th June 2008
- Summary: (W2) NIIGATA CITY, NIIGATA PREFECTURE, JAPAN (FILE - JANUARY 15, 2003) (REUTERS) NORTH KOREAN FERRY IN PORT IN JAPAN VARIOUS OF PASSENGERS GETTING OFF FERRY TRUCKS OF IMPORTED GOODS ARRIVING IN JAPAN FROM NORTH KOREA
- Embargoed: 28th June 2008 13:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA55HJ9ELRB228LYDXV8VA3HT9V
- Story Text: Japan will lift some sanctions on North Korea including a ban on charter flights and travel after Pyongyang agreed to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese citizens abducted decades ago, Japan's top government spokesman said on Friday (June 13).
"As the Japanese - North Korean talks have made progress and taking into account all the facts, the Japanese government has decided to take partial action," Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference.
Talks on establishing diplomatic ties between the two wary neighbours have been blocked by the dispute over Japanese nationals snatched by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s to help train North Korean spies in language and customs.
The issue is a highly emotive one in Japan.
North Korea also agreed in talks this week in Beijing to cooperate in handing over a Japanese radical who took part in hijacking a Japan Airlines plane in 1970, forcing the airliner to land in Pyongyang, Machimura said.
"The Japanese government will move to resolve comprehensibly the abduction and the nuclear missile issues and clear our unfortunate past history and will continue to negotiate for a rapid normalisation of diplomatic relations," Machimura said.
Tokyo first imposed sanctions including a ban on imports and port calls by North Korean ships in October 2006 after North Korea conducted a nuclear test and test-launched ballistic missiles. The sanctions were extended for six months from April.
Tokyo has also refused to provide energy aid as part of a multilateral deal aimed at ending the secretive communist state's nuclear programme until the abduction dispute is resolved.
Machimura said that North Korean ships that wanted to carry humanitarian aid from Japan could make port calls but that Tokyo was not considering providing such aid itself at this time.
North Korea admitted in 2002 that its agents had abducted 13 Japanese.
Five of them were repatriated that year, but Pyongyang has said the other eight were dead.
Tokyo wants more information about the eight and four others it says were also kidnapped, and wants any survivors sent home.
The bilateral talks are a building block in a six-nation process that also involves the United States, China, South Korea and Russia aimed at persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
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