Japan to Lift Part of Sanctions on North Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures during a televised news conference held at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo. Abe announced Thursday that Japan is planning to ease some of its unilateral sanctions on North Korea. EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

TOKYO (DPA) — Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe said Thursday that his country would ease some of its unilateral sanction on North Korea.

The move came after diplomats from the two countries held talks in Beijing on Tuesday about North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals and recent missile launches.

The decision was motivated by North Korea's apparent efforts to give real authority to an abduction probe panel it is setting up, the Kyodo News agency reported.

The panel includes a powerful Defence Commission member, Abe said.

In May, North Korea promised to launch the reinvestigation of the abductions during a bilateral diplomatic talks in Stockholm.

Japan officially lists 17 nationals abducted by North Korea. Five of them were returned alive in 2002.