March 21, 2014 7:05 pm JST

Japan, N. Korea to hold governmental talks in Beijing March 30-31

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and North Korea will hold intergovernmental talks in Beijing on March 30 to 31 for the first time since November 2012, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Friday. 

     It will be the first dialogue between the two governments since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has committed to resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents decades ago, took office in December 2012.

     The resumption of bilateral governmental talks was agreed during informal talks between the diplomats of the two countries on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of the Japanese and North Korean Red Cross societies through Thursday in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang.

     At the upcoming talks in Beijing, Japan will be represented by Junichi Ihara, who heads the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, and North Korea by Song Il Ho, ambassador in charge of Pyongyang's relations with Tokyo.

     For Japan, the abduction issue remains a major obstacle to normalizing bilateral relations with North Korea.