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N.Korea allows Japanese to visit graveyard

North Korean officials have allowed a group of Japanese to visit a graveyard containing the remains of compatriots who died around the end of World War Two.

Nine people visited the burial ground in the northeastern district of Ranam on Saturday. They are in the country to offer prayers for their relatives, who died in an area that is now North Korea.

Foreign ministry officials guided them to the site, built by Japanese people decades ago.

The visitors offered sticks of incense before the remnants of gravestones. They also sang a Japanese song, "Furusato," meaning hometown.

It's the first time North Korea has allowed Japanese people to see the site.
The group on Friday attended a memorial service in the northeastern district of Komusan. The remains of more than 3,000 Japanese are believed to be dispersed across the area.

75-year-old Yasue Watanabe erected a wooden grave marker for her brother and offered a prayer. She said she was pleased she could finally visit his resting place.

North Korea has promised to set up a panel to investigate the fate of missing Japanese, including people who were abducted by agents for Pyongyang.

Officials are due to explain the makeup of the panel in inter-governmental talks with Japan in Beijing on Tuesday.

Analysts say North Korea is trying to show its willingness to improve ties by allowing the visit to the graveyard.

Jun. 28, 2014 - Updated 21:09 UTC