The government set up a Cabinet task force Friday to deal with issues related to the resumption of Japan-North Korea normalization talks in October, including pressing Pyongyang to return the surviving Japanese abductees before the negotiations restart, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said.

The task force is under the auspices of Fukuda and consists of Cabinet ministers except for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the government’s top spokesman told a news conference.

Fukuda said the task force will deal with further investigations into the abductions of Japanese by North Korean agents, Pyongyang’s spy boat intrusions into Japanese waters, and nuclear arms and missile issues — Tokyo’s prime concerns in restarting its normalization negotiations.

With the creation of the task force, the government is expected to accelerate efforts to facilitate the return of the surviving Japanese abductees before the resumption of the talks.

In addition to seeking their repatriation, the task force is expected to arrange for relatives of the abductees to visit North Korea and meet them.

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