Japan to lift North Korea sanctions despite disarmament suspension

Other News Materials 29 August 2008 13:18 (UTC +04:00)

Tokyo would lift sanctions against North Korea, provided it resumes investigations into the abduction of Japanese citizens and despite Pyongyang reneging on a pledge to disable its nuclear facilities, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura said Friday.

Japan planned to proceed with a promised deal to lift some of its sanctions against the communist state if North Korea executes the agreement to investigate the abduction of Japanese citizens by its agents in the 1970s and '80s, Japan's top diplomat said, three days after North Korea said it would stop work on disabling its nuclear facilities, reported dpa.

"We share a common understanding between our governments and so when [North Korea] launches an investigation committee empowered with the authority to conduct the investigation we have in mind ... and the Japanese government concludes that the investigation has begun, we, too, will do what we have promised," Koumura said at a news conference.

But Japan would continue to support international efforts by Russia, China, South Korea and the United States to push for North Korea's nuclear disarmament, Koumura added.

Japan and the four other countries were the ones who won the agreement from North Korea to disable its nuclear facilities.

In a separate deal hammered out this month, North Korea promised to resume investigations into the Japanese abductions in exchange for Tokyo allowing charted flights between the two countries and lifting restrictions on visits by North Koreans.

North Korea vowed to complete the investigation in the autumn.

The abductions have strained ties between the two countries for years. North Korea said it has accounted for all the abductees, who, it said, either died in North Korea or were returned to Japan, but Japan said there are more abductees than North Korea has admitted and some remain unaccounted for.