Tokyo may ease some sanctions on North Korea in return for new information about the fate of Japanese citizens abducted decades ago by the reclusive state, local media reported. The Nikkei business daily said Pyongyang had handed Japan names of at least 10 of its nationals still living in North Korea, according to Reuters. A number of Japanese were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s and were used to train spies for the hardline regime.
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Pyongyang admitted in 2002 to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens. Five subsequently returned to Japan. North Korea said the remaining eight were dead and that the issue was closed, but Japan wants more information and believes more were kidnapped. Among the possible victims is Megumi Yokota, who was taken by North Korean agents on her way home from school in 1977, when she was 13. North Korea claims she killed herself in 1994, the BBC reported. The easing of sanctions could be a first step toward repairing ties but North Korea has a history of reneging on deals.
Megumi Yokota in an undated photo taken in North Korea after her abduction from her hometown in Japan.
- Alastair Jamieson
First published July 3 2014, 3:25 AM