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Japanese Delegation Returns from Pyongyang With Abductee Files

A delegation of Japanese Foreign Ministry and police agency officials has returned home after an extended fact-finding mission in the North Korean capital. The group was looking for information on Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean spies in the 1970s and 80s.

The delegation, headed by a top Foreign Ministry official, arrived back in Tokyo Monday on a government-chartered airliner. Government officials say they returned with a container full of documents and belongings - allegedly from abducted Japanese citizens.

The delegation spent a week in Pyongyang trying to get more information about 10 missing Japanese believed kidnapped by North Korean agents during the Cold War era.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda says it is too soon to make a comment about whether Japan might impose economic sanctions on North Korea as requested by some politicians.

Mr. Hosoda says North Korea showed efforts during the most recent discussion but the contents of the talks need to be analyzed before deciding on an official response.

The delegation members are meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura. Later in the day they are to discuss the trip with families of the abduction victims.

Some family members want Tokyo to take a harder stance against North Korea, saying that is the only way to pressure the communist state into accounting for the whereabouts of their loved ones after three rounds of inconclusive bilateral talks on the issue.

Japanese officials say the delegation, during its stay in North Korea, was able to interview people who knew the abductees and they also visited places where they were believed to have lived.

North Korea, more than two years ago, admitted that its agents had kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens. It said eight of them had died. The other five returned to Japan in October 2002. Japan says 10 people have not been accounted for.