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Japan to lift sanctions as North Korea pledges new probe into Japanese abductions

July 03, 2014, 7:29 UTC+3 TOKYO
It is expected that the decision to remove some sanctions against Pyongyang will be approved at a Cabinet session on Friday, but it will come into effect when a probe is launched
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

© EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

TOKYO, July 03. /ITAR-TASS/. The Japanese government has made the decision to lift some visa and financial sanctions on North Korea following Pyongyang’s pledge to reopen an investigation into the fate of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean secret services in 1970-80s, the Japanese government reports.

It is expected that Japan will lift its ban on the issuing of visas for North Korean nationals. Up until now, each request for a Japanese visa from North Korea has been considered separately and as an exception. Besides, the Japanese authorities intend to let North Korean ships “arriving with humanitarian missions ”call at Japanese ports, as well as to soften restrictions on financial transactions from Japan to North Korea. At the same time, Tokyo maintains a tough ban on trade with Pyongyang and confirms commitment to international sanctions on the DPRK imposed in response to its nuclear and missile developments.

It is expected that the decision to remove some sanctions against Pyongyang will be approved at a Cabinet session on Friday, but it will come into effect when a probe is launched.

“An unprecedented system has been created that may shed light on the fate of all abducted Japanese nationals,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. “We have made the decision to lift some of sanctions on the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea),” the prime minister said, noting that this was just the beginning and that Japan expected to see further progress on talks on the abducted Japanese citizens.

At a new round of consultations between the two countries in Beijing on July 1-2, North Korean representatives handed a list of abducted Japanese nationals held in the country to Japanese counterparts, as well as presented a plan of investigation.

The problem of abducted Japanese nationals is the main sticking point in relations between Japan and the DPRK. In 2002, Pyongyang for the first time acknowledged the abduction of only 13 Japanese nationals and let five of them get back to their homeland. The others were declared dead, and their relatives received remains the authenticity of which was not confirmed. Tokyo has repeatedly demanded from Pyongyang to settle the matter, but up until this year North Korea insisted that the problem had been exhausted.

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