Japan and North Korea will hold talks over the weekend on the communist country's abductions of Japanese citizens and other pending issues, Japan said Wednesday. The talks, the first between the two since unsuccessful meetings Nov. 3-4, will take place in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday, the Foreign Ministry and government officials said.
The two are at odds over the North's nuclear weapons development, the abductions, and Pyongyang's demand for compensation for Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula. Japan's top spokesman said that Tokyo will further press Pyongyang on the abduction issue. "We will again demand strongly for the return of the survivors, investigations into the matter, and the handover of suspects," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe. He said that it is impossible for Japan to move ahead with the discussion of the North's compensation demands over Japan's colonial rule unless the kidnapping issue is resolved.
North Korea in 2002 admitted to abducting 13 Japanese citizens and allowed five of them to return to Japan, claiming that the other eight victims had died.
But Tokyo says the North has never provided conclusive proof of the deaths, and many in Japan suspect some of the victims may still be alive. Japan also says there are at least several other cases of suspected abductions that North Korea has not properly investigated.
The November talks were the pair's first in more than a year, but the discussions ended in discord over the North's demands for compensation and Japan's demands for more information on the abductions. Japan and North Korea have never had formal diplomatic relations, reports the AP. I.L.