Relatives of abductees snatched away to North Korea decades ago have conditionally accepted the lifting of Tokyo’s sanctions on Pyongyang, giving the Japanese government breathing room to attempt a breakthrough with its nuclear-armed neighbor.

Families and supporters of the abductees held a joint meeting in Tokyo on Sunday, where they agreed they would not oppose the measures’ lifting if all remaining abductees are returned to Japan together while their parents’ generation is still alive.

At a news conference following the meeting, Takuya Yokota, head of an abductee family group, called the move a "difficult decision" that came amid fears that relatives might pass away before any resolution of the issue.