Red Cross officials from Japan and North Korea held informal talks in China Monday, raising the hopes for a resumption in bilateral negotiations.
Officials say the talks in Shenyang focused on the possibility of returning the remains of Japanese soldiers who died in North Korea at the end of World War II.
Monday's talks between Red Cross officials is seen as a step towards broader negotiations, which could include discussions about Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.
The two countries do not have diplomatic relations and have not had formal government talks since November 2012, which took place following similar Red Cross meetings.
However, future talks were called off after North Korea conducted a missile test in December 2012.
Japan colonized North Korea from 1910 to 1945 and thousands of Japanese nationals died there at the end of World War II.