Japan plans to ease sanctions on North Korea after talks
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2355 GMT (0755 HKT)
- Japan's Shinzo Abe says he plans to "reward an action with an action"
- He plans to lift some sanctions after North Korea agreed to investigate abductions
- North Korean operatives kidnapped at least 17 Japanese citizens in the '70s and '80s
- Japan is expected to lift some of its unilateral sanctions but to keep multilateral ones
Tokyo (CNN) -- Japan said Thursday it plans to lift some sanctions on North Korea after the two countries held talks about Japanese citizens abducted by the North Korean regime decades ago.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that after the negotiations between diplomats from the two sides this week, North Korea has agreed to set up an investigation into the abduction cases.
"Based on the principle to reward an action with an action, I would like to lift a part of sanctions that Japan has taken," he told reporters. Abe added that such a move would be "only a start," and that he would aim for a "complete resolution" of the issue.
According to the Japanese government, North Korean operatives kidnapped at least 17 Japanese citizens in the late 1970s and early 1980s, possibly dozens more.
Japan, North Korea to hold abduction talks
In 2002, North Korea admitted to the kidnappings for the first time but allowed only five abduction victims to return home to Japan. Information on the remaining 12 was sketchy at best.
Some were kidnapped alone, while walking to and from school. Others were taken in pairs while out on dates, including a couple snatched from the beach after walking to see the sunset.
Japan is expected to lift some of its unilateral sanctions on North Korea, but to keep to multilateral ones in line with U.N. resolutions.
Japan's unilateral sanctions include entry restrictions on North Korean citizens, limits on North Korean ships in Japanese ports and a requirement that money sent to North Korea be reported.
The easing of the sanctions will coincide with North Korea's establishment of an investigation committee into the abductions, which is likely to happen Friday, said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Abe is expected to meet with his National Security Council on Thursday to decide which sanctions to lift.
The families of the kidnapped Japanese citizens, meanwhile, are waiting to see whether the diplomatic maneuvers will bring them any answers about what happened to their missing relatives.
CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki reported from Tokyo and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong. CNN's Will Ripley contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT)
North Korea has released photos that claim to show leader Kim Jong Un, whose absence for over a month has raised speculation.
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 0543 GMT (1343 HKT)
Despite tense relations, China benefits from Kim Jong Un's rule in North Korea. David McKenzie explains.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0851 GMT (1651 HKT)
North Korea has "the world's most advantageous human rights system," the country declares.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions Monday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
May 28, 2013 -- Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT)
Beijing-based tour company posts exclusive photos and video from inspection visit.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley makes a rare live report from reclusive North Korea.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0852 GMT (1652 HKT)
The crowd cheers as the stars make their way to the ring for first pro-wrestling bout North Korea has seen in almost 20 years.
March 27, 2013 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
A German photographer returns from the closed country with unlikely pictures of everyday residents.
December 2, 2013 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
Visiting the DPRK is easy these days, so long as you don't forget to play by their rules.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1445 GMT (2245 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley is given a rare look inside North Korea and tours Kim Jong Un's pet project, a waterpark.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
North Korea rejected an invitation to the Pope's Mass in Seoul. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
July 2, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
As diplomats discuss a string of unsolved kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea, the families of those abducted anxiously wait.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 2344 GMT (0744 HKT)
New signs show Russia and North Korea are developing a closer relationship.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea and shares his inside look at the most isolated country in the world.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 0125 GMT (0925 HKT)
Many North Koreans listen to illegal broadcasts on homemade radios, some are convinced to defect.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
Jang Jin-Sung, a North Korean defector and former regime insider, speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.