Relatives of Japanese people abducted to North Korea want the government to take a tough stance in negotiating with the North for the return of their loved ones.
Japan and North Korea will start bilateral talks in Beijing on Tuesday. The North is expected to give the details of a panel it will set up to investigate the fate of the abductees.
The leader of the group of abductees' families, Shigeo Iizuka, told a rally in Fukuoka, western Japan, that they are beginning to see some signs of a resolution, but they are still at the starting line.
He said North Korea is a tough negotiator, and he wants the Japanese government to negotiate hard and not bring a premature end to the issue.
Iizuka's younger sister, Yaeko Taguchi, was abducted in 1978.
Fumiyo Saito, the elder sister of another abductee, Kaoru Matsuki, talked about their mother who died at the age of 92 in January.
Saito said she wants the government to work hard so that she will have some good news to tell her late mother.
The relatives met the minister in charge of the abduction issue, Keiji Furuya, before the meeting. They urged the government to make progress as the situation has reached a critical stage.
Abductee Rumiko Masumoto's brother, Teruaki, said the government should question the North about Sunday's missile launches and not make any concessions on the abductions.
Jun. 29, 2014 - Updated 17:01 UTC