Japan, N Korea held informal talks on abductees

Japan, N Korea held informal talks on abductees
A man walks past a campaign poster on Japan's abduction issue (L) on a street in Tokyo July 3, 2014.

Japan and North Korea held informal talks in Beijing in late May over Pyongyang's reinvestigation into Japanese abductees and others, according to sources.

Japanese diplomatic authorities are believed to have urged their North Korean counterparts to promptly submit a report on the results of their re-investigation into the fate of kidnap victims and other Japanese nationals covered by the probe.

A year earlier, Japan and North Korea reportedly agreed that the probe would likely be concluded as early as July this year.

According to sources, the unofficial talks took place while Junichi Ihara, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, was visiting Beijing from May 24 to 26. Ihara was there to meet such Chinese officials as Wu Dawei, special representative of the Chinese government on Korean Peninsula Affairs.

Japan-North Korea talks have failed to produce notable progress on issues related to the reinvestigation. Sources said a timetable for the two countries to resume official talks regarding the probe remains unknown.

In April, Pyongyang told Tokyo that holding government-to-government talks was impossible, an angry response to Japanese police searching the home of Ho Jong Man, chairman of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), in connection with a case involving illegally imported North Korean matsutake mushrooms.

Observers have said the talks in May mean North Korea maintained channels for negotiation with Japan despite the search of the Chongryon chief's house.

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