North Korea has agreed to reinvestigate its past abductions of Japanese citizens, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday.
The announcement came a day after the two countries ended their latest round of intergovernmental talks in Stockholm, where their senior diplomats declined to comment in detail on the outcome.
Japan expects North Korea's decision to be "the first step toward comprehensively resolving" the issue, Abe told reporters at his office.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate press conference that Japan intends to ease sanctions on North Korea when it launches the probe.
The abductions by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s have prevented the countries from normalizing relations.
Abe's announcement came right after he met with relevant ministers to discuss Japan's relations with North Korea, based on a briefing by the delegation that returned home from the three-day talks through Wednesday in the Swedish capital.