Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that North Korea has agreed to re-open an investigation on the Japanese citizens abducted by the North decades ago, a possible breakthrough in the bitter dispute between the two nations.
In a brief statement to reporters, Thursday evening, Abe announced that the agreement is just a first step towards resolving the abduction case.
"Until the day comes that the families of those abductees can hold their children in their arms our mission is not over. Since the beginning we have been determined to pursue this goal and believe that this is a solid first step towards that."
Soon after, North Korea's state news agency, the KCNA, reported the two countries came to terms in lifting some sanctions on Pyongyang, once the probe is launched.
Japan's chief cabinet secretary separately told reporters, that Japan will even consider providing humanitrian aid, depending on the progress of the investigation.
"We will look into cancelling the special sanctions against North Korea and the sanctions against humanitarian vessels from North Korea to enter into Japan."
Pyongyang had promised before, to re-open the investigation in 2008, but never did.
The North had admitted in 2002, that it kidnapped 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s, to help train spies, five of whom returned to Japan.
The country had insisted that the remaining eight had died.
Tokyo however claims that at least 17 people were kidnapped and has demanded for those still being held, to be released.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.