Foreign Ministry officials held informal talks with their North Korean counterparts on the sidelines of a meeting Monday between the Red Cross societies of their respective nations in Shenyang, northeastern China.

The talks between Keiichi Ono, director of the Foreign Ministry's Northeast Asia Division, and Ryu Song Il, chief of the Japanese affairs section at North Korea's Foreign Ministry, raised hope for the resumption of bilateral negotiations that have been suspended since an intergovernmental meeting in Ulan Bator in November 2012, a month before Pyongyang pushed ahead with a banned missile test.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears poised to reopen formal negotiations and has expressed determination to resolve the abduction issue, in which North Korean agents kidnapped several Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, while he is in office.