North Korea has expressed readiness to disclose all information regarding the Japanese it abducted, including information on the cause of death of eight of them, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Thursday.

“Their position is that General Secretary Kim Jong Il has clearly acknowledged the abductions and has apologized, and wants to fully disclose information,” Hitoshi Tanaka, head of the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told the House of Councilors Audit Committee.

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi told the committee it is “extremely important to properly deal with (the abduction issue) during the process of normalization talks,” which are slated to resume next month.

Kawaguchi apologized for the ministry’s delay in providing information about the dates of death to the families of the deceased, but defended the ministry.

“Various things have been pointed out to us, and they have been most appropriate, but I’d like to say that as the Foreign Ministry, we are doing our best,” Kawaguchi said.

The ministry informed the families of the deaths of the eight but did not tell them the dates of death until two days after receiving the information Sept. 17 during Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s trip to North Korea.

A list handed over by North Korea after a working-level meeting prior to the summit between Koizumi and Kim gave the names, dates of birth and dates of death of eight Japanese.

The list also said five abducted Japanese were alive in North Korea.

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