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Japanese Delegation Heads to North Korea for Update on Abductions

FILE - Junichi Ihara, director-general of Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.

Japanese officials travel to Pyongyang Monday to receive an update on North Korea's investigation into the fate of Japanese citizens abducted decades ago.

The delegation will hold talks during the four-day visit with a North Korean special investigation committee on the abduction issue.

North Korea
North Korea

North Korea has admitted to kidnapping Japanese citizens during the 1970s to train its spies. The North has repatriated five Japanese citizens, but claims a dozen more have died. Japan has pressed for more information about the abductees' fate and others that Tokyo believes were also kidnapped.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said last week that the delegation will be headed by Junichi Ihara, Director General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.

Japan eased some sanctions on North Korea in July in return for the North reopening its probe into the status of the abduction victims and had expected an initial report by early autumn.

But the North told Japan last month there were no concrete results to report and invited a Japanese delegation to go to Pyongyang for a detailed update. The proposal was met with skepticism from some Japanese lawmakers and families of abductees due to Pyongyang's history of reneging on agreements.

The abduction issue has soured relations between the two countries.

North Korea has said that all abductees have died or been repatriated and that the issue is closed.

Material for this report came from Reuters.

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