Japan to ease sanctions on DPRK

Updated: 2014-07-03 10:46


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TOKYO - Japanese top government spokesman said Thursday that Japan will formally announce its sanction easing following the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) launch of a reinvestigation team on the bilateral abduction issue on Friday.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, made the remarks after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced earlier in the day that Japan has decided to lift some sanctions unilaterally imposed on the DPRK.

Suga said that the DPRK will launch the "special investigation committee" with about 30 members on Friday and Japan will formally announce the restriction easing after a cabinet meeting on the same day.

Abe said earlier Thursday in a press briefing at his official residence that Japan will partially lift its sanctions imposed on the DPRK, after a meeting between the two countries in Beijing, China, Tuesday on the abduction issue, which is a major obstacle for the two to establishing diplomatic ties.

Abe told reporters after a meeting with relevant ministers that a team launched by the DPRK to reinvestigate the whereabouts of Japanese it kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s contains powerful National Defense Commission members.

"We have examined that (DPRK) has formed an unprecedented team involving the National Defense Commission and the Ministry of State Security, organizations that can make decisions at a state level," Abe was quoted as saying.

The prime minister said "based on the rule of 'action for action,' Japan would like to lift some sanctions," and added that it is just "a start."

Japan and the DPRK agreed late May that the latter would launch a committee to reinvestigate the whereabouts of the abducted Japanese and Japan, in return, would lift some unilateral sanctions related to the abduction imposed on the DPRK.

According to local reports, Japan is expected to lift sanctions on visits, to lift special restrictions against the DPRK regarding money remittance and money carried by visitors, and to ease the embargo on the entry of DPRK-flagged ships with a humanitarian mission into Japanese ports.

On Wednesday, a senior Japanese vice foreign minister said in Washington that the United States understand Japan's move to lift some restrictions closely related to the abduction issue imposed on the DPRK.

In 2002, the DPRK admitted to having abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, but has repeatedly stated since that the matter has already been settled with Japan, with five of the abductees allowed to return home to Japan and the remaining eight declared dead.