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Pyongyang likely to have abduction report ready by mid-September

JIJI

North Korea is expected to make an initial report on its investigation into Japanese nationals abducted or believed to have been abducted by the reclusive country in the second week of September at the earliest, according to informed sources.

The Japanese and North Korean governments are now discussing the plan, government sources said Thursday.

Japan is preparing an investigation team to be dispatched to North Korea in order to scrutinize the report and make further inquiries, the sources said.

At a high-level bilateral meeting held in Beijing on July 1, Japan and North Korea agreed that Pyongyang should make its initial report in late summer or early autumn.

During an unofficial meeting in Myanmar on Aug. 10, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida asked his North Korean counterpart, Ri Su Yong, to carry out the new investigation Around this time, the governments of the two countries secretly agreed that the report will be presented at a high-level meeting to be held after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffles his Cabinet on Sept. 3 and visits Sri Lanka and Bangladesh between Sept. 6-8, according to the sources.

Of the 12 abductees officially recognized by the government, Pyongyang claims that eight died, while the other four never entered North Korea.

A focal point is whether the results of the new investigation will reverse the position presented by the current leader’s late father, Kim Jong Il, critics said. Also watched closely is to what extent Pyongyang will provide information on Japanese citizens who have yet to be officially recognized as abductees but are strongly believed to be victims of the inhumane acts of North Korea.

The Japanese team is expected to comprise officials from the Foreign Ministry, the government’s Headquarters for the Abduction Issue and the National Police Agency. It plans to stay in North Korea for a period of time to conduct interviews, the sources said.

In response to the launch of the investigation, the government lifted some sanctions against Pyongyang, including restrictions on travel between the two countries and on remittances.

Tokyo will carefully examine the investigation results before making a decision on whether to accept Pyongyang’s demands for lifting bans on bilateral trade and entry into Japan by North Korea’s Mangyongbong-92 cargo-passenger ferry, the sources added.

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