TOKYO – Japanese and North Korean Red Cross officials will meet in China on Monday in what could be a first step toward resuming talks between the two nations.
The two sides will discuss the repatriation of remains of Japanese buried in North Korea and left behind after World War II, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Japan colonized Korea from 1910 to 1945.
Officials from both foreign ministries will attend the meeting in Shenyang, a northeast China city about 210 kilometers (130 miles) from the border with North Korea. The North Korean Red Cross Society requested the meeting, the Japanese foreign ministry said.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Friday that Japan hope to see positive signs from North Korea about holding talks on other issues, including the fate of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.
Similar talks between the two Red Cross Societies in 2012 led to the first government-to-government talks between Japan and North Korea in four years. The brief warming of relations came to an end after North Korea launched a rocket in December 2012.
Following the August 2012 Red Cross meeting, at least two delegations of Japanese were allowed to visit graves in North Korea. One held a memorial service at a Pyongyang mountain where up to 2,500 Japanese are buried.
Monday's talks will cover both further visits to the gravesites and the repatriation of remains.