SHENYANG, China (AP) — North Korea said Monday it is moving forward with an investigation into the abduction of Japanese civilians by North Korean agents in the 1970s and '80s but is not yet ready to provide a preliminary report demanded by Japan.
Japanese negotiator Junichi Ihara and North Korea's Song Il Ho held one day of talks in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang. Tokyo was hoping to receive preliminary results of the probe, which North Korea had earlier agreed to conduct. However, Song said after the meeting that the talks were not intended for reporting any results.
"Both sides agreed to ... cooperate well, and both sides shared the view to continuously put effort into doing so," Song said. "For sure, the talks were not about reporting results of the investigation."
Ihara said the Japanese delegation strongly urged North Korea to "promptly conduct a comprehensive and thorough re-examination" of Japanese believed to have been abducted by North Korea.
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 such cases, but believes hundreds more people may have been abducted and that many of them may still be alive.
North Korea agreed in May to launch a new probe into the abductions, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has demanded that it expedite that investigation.