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Pyongyang’s New Overtures and Abe’s Diplomacy

Author: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
May 31, 2014
38 North

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Recent meetings between Japan and North Korea have prompted concern about whether Prime Minister Abe may be departing from the US and South Korea in its dealings with Pyongyang. Japanese and North Korean officials met on March 30-31, 2014 in Shenyang, China, and again on May 26-28 in Stockholm, Sweden. On May 29, Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced that Pyongyang had agreed to reopen its investigation into the whereabouts of the remaining Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted by the North Korean government.

In return, the Japanese government will relax minor sanctions imposed unilaterally during Abe's last tenure as prime minister. Tokyo refused to consider Pyongyang's request to block the sale of the building and the land that had housed the General Association of Korean Residents (Chongryon), the de facto liaison office for North Korea. The North Korean envoy at the talks, Song Il Ho, however, argued otherwise.

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