NEW YORK (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe demanded Thursday that North Korea quickly complete an investigation into Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted by the North's agents in the 1970s and '80s.
North Korea agreed in May to launch a new probe into the abductions. In response, Japan eased some sanctions.
Abe said senior officials of the two countries, which don't have diplomatic relations, would meet in China on Monday.
"We will strongly demand the North Korean side expeditiously conduct this investigation as well as report the result very speedily," Abe told a news conference on the sidelines of an annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
He said Japan was keeping its policy of "dialogue and pressure" on North Korea, but did not threaten to re-impose the sanctions.
In 2002, North Korea acknowledged that its agents had kidnapped 13 Japanese, mainly to train spies in Japanese language and culture. It allowed five of them to return to Japan that year, but said the others had died. Japan has officially recognized 17 cases but believes hundreds more people may have been abducted and many may still be alive.
Japanese officials say North Korea has so far provided no new information about the abductions.
Abe has made the resolution of the abductions, a highly emotive issue in Japan, something of a personal political cause, although Japan's main ally, the U.S., is intent on increasing pressure on the North over its nuclear program.
Japan has kept in place U.N.-backed restrictions and says its concessions so far won't have much of an impact.