South Korea has expressed concern over a decision by Japan to relax sanctions against North Korea, underlining the need to keep a united front against Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a Friday statement that the united stance between Japan, South Korea and the US on the need for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should remain intact.
In the statement, South Korea noted that it “will continue watching the Japan-North Korea consultations in this context.”
The development comes after Tokyo and Pyongyang reached a deal following days of talks in Sweden over the reinvestigation of the cases of 13 Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea to train its spies.
North Korea confirmed over a decade ago that it had abducted the Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s to instruct its spies in Japanese language and customs.
On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that North Korea has promised to “make a comprehensive and thorough investigation” into the issue and establish “a special commission for the investigation.”
“Japan has decided to lift special restrictions on travel by people, reporting requirements on remittances… as well as the ban on North Korea-registered vessels entering Japanese ports for humanitarian purposes,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday.
Pyongyang also confirmed the shift in relations between the two countries. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, “The Japanese side re-clarified its will to settle its inglorious past, solve the pending issues and normalize the relations together with the DPRK (North Korean) side.”