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Japan eyes resuming talks with N. Korea on abductions: spokesman


Japan is considering resuming talks with North Korea on the longstanding abduction issue, the top government spokesman said Wednesday, while the minister in charge of the issue released a statement that urged Pyongyang to make the "right decision" and rebuild bilateral relations.

"We are exploring every possibility (to solve the issue). That (the resumption of the talks) is of course included" in the options, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

The intergovernmental talks on the abductions by North Korea of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s have stalled since November, while the North has been increasingly criticized by other nations over its nuclear and missile testing in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Suga's comment followed the recent visit to Pyongyang by Isao Iijima, an advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Iijima met with senior North Korean officials during the trip, explaining to them Abe's determination to address the abductions, according to Japanese officials.

Meanwhile, Keiji Furuya, minister in charge of the issue, issued a statement Wednesday, marking the ninth anniversary of the last summit between the two countries in 2004 in Pyongyang, in which he demanded North Korea immediately return all abduction victims.

"We strongly hope that the North Korean leadership will realize the return of all the abductees and make the right decision from a historical and broader perspective in order to rebuild" bilateral relations, Furuya said in the statement.

"We will not give any humanitarian aid (to North Korea) unless the abductees safely return to Japan," the statement said.

Furuya also said Japan will keep seeking to restore diplomatic relations with North Korea by "settling the unfortunate past" of the two countries and comprehensively addressing the issues of Pyongyang's nuclear and missile ambitions as well as the abductions.