Japan and N Korea meet over Cold War kidnapping

Japan and N Korea meet over Cold War kidnapping
This file picture taken on 16 November 2004 shows Shigeru (R) and Sakie Yokota, parents of Megumi Yokota (in pictures). Megumi was only 13 when she was kidnapped by North Korean agents on her way home from school in the coastal Japanese city of Niigata.

TOKYO - Japan on Monday demanded North Korea promptly report the results of its probe into the Cold War kidnappings of Japanese citizens as the two nations began talks in China.

The meeting of senior officials in Shenyang came after Tokyo announced in July it was easing sanctions against Pyongyang, following the secretive state's promise to reinvestigate the cases of Japanese abductees.

Japan believes dozens of people were snatched in the 1970s and 1980s to train the North's spies in the Japanese language and customs.

Japanese officials had expected the report by September, but North Korea recently said it would be unable to supply substantial details to that timeline.

"We believe North Korea should promptly conduct a comprehensive, all-out investigation into abduction victims and all other Japanese nationals and quickly report the results," Junichi Ihara, the head of Japan's delegation, said at the start of the one-day talks, television pictures showed.

His North Korean counterpart Song Il-Ho said the meeting was not meant to report about investigation results but to report what activity both sides have been involved in since July and clarify their current stances.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens to train its spies.

Five of the abductees returned home but Pyongyang said - without producing credible evidence - that the eight others had died.

That claim provoked an uproar in Japan, where there are suspicions that dozens or perhaps even hundreds of others were taken.

Tokyo and Pyongyang have no formal diplomatic ties, partially because of what Japan says is the North's unwillingness to come clean over the abductions.

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