North Korea-Japan deals serves both ends

Both Japan and North Korea have their own reasons for engaging with each other, separate agendas that led to this week’s landmark agreement on the abduction issue between the two countries.

Tokyo wants tangible progress on the long-standing issue, as abductees’ family members are growing old. North Korea, meanwhile, has become increasingly isolated in the international community, prompting it to turn to Japan for help.

During talks between senior government officials of the two countries in Stockholm this week, North Korea agreed to fully investigate the fate of Japanese nationals abducted by its agents and suspected abductees, while Japan pledged to lift some of its sanctions against North Korea.

North Korea has agreed that the probe will cover not only the 12 people recognized by the Japanese government as abduction victims, including Megumi Yokota, but also about 470 “specially designated missing persons” who are believed to have been abducted by Pyongyang.

Despite the much-heralded agreement, however, it is still open to question whether Pyongyang will follow through.

[The Yomiuri Shimbun]

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