Abe tells U.N. panel chief of intent to resolve abductions issue

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his determination Friday to resolve the issue of past abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, pledging cooperation with a U.N. commission investigating human rights violations in that country.

"I'm determined to solve the abduction issue while in office, Abe said in a meeting with Michael Kirby, head of the Commission of Inquiry that was established by the U.N. Human Rights Council earlier this year.

The premier has increasingly shown his intent to address the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, one of key obstacles preventing Japan and North Korea from normalizing diplomatic relations.

"We are very grateful for your determination...to help Japan and the international community to solve that puzzle," Kirby, a retired Australian judge, told Abe at the prime minister's office.

The commission chief met with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday to be briefed on Tokyo's efforts to resolve the issue. On Thursday, the three-member panel heard from the families of abductees.