The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its two non-Cabinet allies agreed July 8 to make efforts to hold direct talks with North Korea, both at the government and party level, to solve questions over emergency food aid and the alleged abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato told a press briefing that a meeting of top officials from the ruling bloc, comprised of the LDP, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, had agreed to take action as soon as possible. However, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said the government is already making efforts to overcome obstacles between the two countries and suggested that the parties wait and talk with the Foreign Ministry before taking any action, according to Kato.

Japan has been criticized in some quarters for not providing emergency food aid to North Korea, due partly to Pyongyang’s alleged abductions of Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s.

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