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Japan eases sanctions against North Korea

The Japanese government has decided to lift 3 sanctions on North Korea as it believes Pyongyang has made sincere preparations to tackle the abduction issue.

The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting on Friday.
The government says it has confirmed that North Korea has set up a special panel to investigate missing Japanese nationals in the North and its members have begun their work. The missing people include Japanese who were abducted by North Korea.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Cabinet ministers determined that the panel would be able to conduct effective investigations. It will be headed by a senior official of the North's top state organ, the National Defense Commission.

Japan will lift the travel restrictions between the 2 countries and the requirements for reporting fund transfers to North Korea. It will also remove the ban on the entry into Japanese ports by North Korean ships operating for humanitarian purposes.

The 3 restrictions were included in the sanctions Japan imposed on North Korea in 2006.

But Japan will maintain its other sanctions, including a ban on port calls by a North Korean cargo-passenger ship, the Mangyongbong, as well as a total ban on bilateral trade.

Sanctions based on UN Security Council resolutions will also remain in place. They include an asset freeze on some North Korean entities and individuals.

Jul. 4, 2014 - Updated 03:42 UTC