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Japan eases N. Korea sanctions.

TOKYO, July 4 (KUNA) -- Japan formally decided on Friday to lift part of its sanctions on North Korea as Pyongyang set up the Special Investigation Committee to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by its agents decades ago.

"We have confirmed the launch of the committee through our Foreign Ministry," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference after the Cabinet made the decision.

Suga said Japan will lift restrictions on travel between the two countries, an obligation to report on remittance to North Korea, and a ban on entry into Japanese ports of North Korean-registered ships for humanitarian purposes.

Japan unilaterally imposed the sanctions in 2006 following North Korea's first nuclear test and test-launch of ballistic missiles over the Sea of Japan. Tokyo still adheres to sanctions based on UN Security Council resolutions.

North Korea set up the committee in Pyongyang, the official Korean Central News Agency also announced Friday. The powerful committee is headed by a senior official of the National Defense Commission, the North's top state organ, and has the authority to investigate any organization in the country.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that North Korea has established an unprecedented system which can make national decisions to reinvestigate all Japanese nationals involved.

Government officials from Japan and North Korea on Tuesday discussed in Beijing specifics of Pyongyang's promised establishment of the investigation panel that will look into the fate of Japanese who were abducted by North Korea as well as other Japanese missing in the North.

The Beijing meeting came after the two countries reached an agreement late May, in which Japan said it will lift some of the sanctions on North Korea once Pyongyang sets up such a committee and starts a "comprehensive and full-scale survey." The abduction issue has prevented Tokyo and Pyongyang from normalizing relations. Japan officially lists 17 nationals as having been abducted by North Korean agents in 1970s and 1980s, mostly to train as spies, but believes there are more cases.

In 2002, the North returned five of the 17, but Japan continues to seek the return of the remaining 12 people. Of the 12, the North claims eight have died and four others never entered the country.

The number of missing Japanese who may have been abducted by North Korea could reach 860, according to the National Police Agency. The North agreed in 2008 to reinvestigate the abduction cases, but has failed to fulfill its promise. (end) mk.gta

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Date:Jul 4, 2014
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