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Japan lifts sanctions on North Korea in return for abduction probe Updated: 2014-05-30 13:58:39 KST

  Japan lifts sanctions on North Korea in return for abduction probe

The agreement between Japan and North Korea to re-open an investigation on Japanese citizens abducted by the North decades ago represents a possible breakthrough in a bitter bilateral dispute.
The move, however, touched off concerns that Tokyo's unilateral lifting of sanctions against North Korea could cripple international efforts to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs.

"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."

In exchange, Tokyo's chief cabinet secretary told reporters that Japan would ease restrictions on Pyongyang and consider a resumption of humanitarian aid to Pyongyang.

"We will look into canceling the special sanctions against North Korea and the sanctions against humanitarian vessels from North Korea to enter into Japan."

The international community has had a lukewarm reaction to the deal, including both South Korea and the U.S., which said a wrong message may be sent to Pyongyang.
South Korean officials said the lifting of sanctions could have a negative impact on denuclearizing the North.
U.S. State Department spokesperson stressed the need for transparency in talks with the North.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
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