N Korea, Japan to hold 2-day talks
TOKYO JAPAN’S Red Cross will hold talks with its North Korean counterpart in Beijing this week over the repatriation of the remains of Japanese who died in the North during World War II, officials said on Tuesday.
The rare talks will be held on Thursday and Friday as analysts say North Korea’s new leadership is seeking to carry out military and economic reforms following the death of leader Kim Jong-il last December.
Three Red Cross officials from each country will discuss possible visits by Japanese to graves containing the remains of their relatives who died in northern Korea during the war and immediately afterward, the Japanese Red Cross Society said.
It added in a statement that the two sides will also discuss the return to the Japanese side of the remains of those unearthed there.
North Korea’s official news agency KCNA also reported the time and place of the Red Cross talks.
The Korean peninsula was divided into the communist North and the capitalist South following Japanese colonial rule from 1910-1945.
It will be the first contact between the two Red Cross societies since August 2002, a Japanese Red Cross spokeswoman said.
At that time, the two sides discussed the fates of Japanese who were kidnapped by North Korean agents in the Cold War years as well as home visits for Japanese who lived in the North after marrying North Koreans, she said.
“This time, we are not going to discuss the abduction issue which is now a government- to-government matter,” she added.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba has described the issue over the retrieval of the remains as an “unresolved matter that is important from the humanitarian standpoint,” Kyodo news agency reported.