Negotiating team off to Pyongyang

A Japanese delegation left Narita airport Monday morning for North Korea to begin the first negotiations in more than seven years on the normalization of diplomatic ties.

Led by Kojiro Takano, ambassador in charge of negotiations with North Korea, the group will stay one night in Beijing before arriving in Pyongyang on Tuesday. The talks are scheduled to get under way Wednesday morning and the delegation is to return to Japan on Saturday.

The previous round began in January 1991 but collapsed in November 1992 after eight rounds, mainly because Pyongyang rejected Japan’s demands for information about a Japanese woman allegedly abducted by North Korean agents.

In the latest talks, both sides have agreed to hold a second round in Tokyo and a third in Beijing or another country.

Tokyo’s policy on normalizing ties with North Korea centers on securing a quick resolution to the alleged abduction of Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s by North Korean agents, according to Japanese government officials.