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N.Korea announces launch of probe panel

North Korea has announced the launch of a special committee to investigate missing Japanese, including those abducted by the North.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said on Friday that the country will organize the Special Investigation Committee and begin a comprehensive investigation on Friday into all Japanese residing in the North.

The announcement came after Japan partially lifted sanctions.

The committee of about 30 members is led by So Tae Ha, the vice minister of the Ministry of State Security, or secret police. So is also a councilor of the National Defense Commission, the country's supreme body.

The Korean Central News Agency said the committee is invested with a special mandate from the National Defense Commission to investigate all institutions. It will mobilize the relevant institutions concerned for the investigation when necessary.

The North will set up 4 subcommittees to deal with abductees, missing Japanese, the remains of Japanese who died in the North, and Japanese left behind around the end of World War Two and spouses who moved to the North with their Korean partners.

The North says it will examine how the abductees were brought to the country and allow Japanese investigators to carry out their activities.

The North apparently wants to show Japan that it has a positive stance towards the investigation and tell North Koreans that the leadership is ready to improve relations with the country.

Jul. 4, 2014 - Updated 04:46 UTC