• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Japan, North Korea kick off talks in Stockholm

AFP · 27 May 2014, 07:13

Published: 27 May 2014 07:13 GMT+02:00

   
The three days of meetings in the Swedish capital take place after the two countries held their first official talks in 16 months in China in March, addressing a range of subjects including the abduction issue, recent missile launches and North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.
   
Prior to the discussions at a small Stockholm hotel, the two delegations -- eight on either side -- appeared briefly in front of the media, the majority Japanese reporters flown in for the occasion.
   
Wearing stern expressions and making no eye contact with each other, the two delegations welcomed the opportunity to talk.
   
"Over the next three days, we want to hold forward-looking talks, based on issues we raised at the government talks in Beijing," said Japanese chief delegate Junichi Ihara, the director general of the foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.
   
"We also want to make an effort to push for a resolution of various issues as much as possible by frankly and seriously discussing broad matters of mutual interest."
   
His North Korean counterpart Song Il Ho, wearing a bright red and gold badge with the image of the country's leader Kim Jong-Un and his grandfather Kim Il-Sung, said that "we hope to hold sincere, deep and wide-ranged talks on relations between North Korea and Japan."
 
- Progress on abductees -
 
The Japanese side was expected to tell the North Koreans that it is willing to lift some economic sanctions imposed on the hermit state if it is convinced that Pyongyang is making a serious effort to investigate what happened to those kidnapped and still unaccounted for, Kyodo News said earlier, citing unnamed sources.
   
North Korea's approach to its dealings with Japan appears to have softened in recent months, especially on the emotive issue of abductions.
   
North Korea outraged Japan when it admitted more than a decade ago that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies in
Japanese language and customs.
   
Five of the abductees were allowed to return to Japan but Pyongyang has insisted, without producing solid evidence, that the eight others are dead.
   
"Needless to say, the abduction issue is one of the nation's biggest concerns," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said last week when
announcing the Stockholm meeting. "We would like to draw their positive response."
 
- Sweden a neutral venue -
 
Sweden is considered a rather unusual choice for a venue, but it is seen as a neutral country by both sides, observers said. It has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973, and represents the interests of US citizens in North Korea in the absence of diplomatic ties between Washington and Pyongyang.
   
"There have been a couple of meetings in the recent past, but they've always been in Asia. This is the first time that the venue has shifted to
Europe," said Ulv Hanssen, a researcher specialising in the Japanese abductees issue at the Free University of Berlin and recently based in Stockholm.
   
"There's a trust factor which a lot of countries are lacking when it comes to North Korea."
   
He added that the Swedish government simply offered a venue for the talks but have not been involved in framing them. During the March meeting, the Japanese side protested against the communist state's launch of ballistic missiles and its threat to conduct more nuclear tests.
   
Story continues below…
Japan may reiterate this in Stockholm, but it is unlikely to make any progress, since North Korea prefers to deal with the United States on this
issue, according to analysts.
   
Pyongyang for its part renewed its demand that Tokyo compensate Koreans for their suffering during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
   
If progress is to be made on Japan's key demand -- the abductees -- it may be difficult with several different issues on the table.
   
"I think they need to be separated... there are so many factors that can backfire if you have all these security issues involved," said Hanssen, adding that regardless of the agenda, there was little chance of a breakthrough at the Stockholm talks.
   
"I've been following the abduction issue for a long time and every time something seems to be happening one of the two sides goes back on some promise or they claim there was a misunderstanding," he said.
   
"There's always something that gets in the way... Most of the time it just seems to be talks for the sake of talks."

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
In pictures: Eight cool compact Scandinavian houses
Houzz.se editor Sara Norrman rounds up some neat but great Scandinavian houses. Photo: Sommarnöjen

Size isn't everything, and Houzz.se's editor in chief Sara Norrman proves it with this looks at nine brilliant uses of compact Scandinavian houses.

Brexit and the growing digital divide
A business meeting at Artipelag in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Trygg/mediabank.visitstockholm.com

Modern tech hubs like Stockholm are thriving while smaller regions struggle. We need to close this gap and we need to do it quickly, argues Leif Rehnström, CEO of the Skellefteå-based Hello Future!

Brexit vote
'Brexit is an opportunity for businesses in Stockholm'
Could London's pain be Stockholm's gain post Brexit? Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/TT

The Local speaks to British business owners in Sweden about how they think the Brexit vote will impact their work.

Swedish police to hand out anti-groping armbands
A boy and a girl wearing the armbands. Photo: Swedish police

Swedish police have launched a campaign aimed at curbing sexual harassment among young people.

Use it or lose it: Swedish banknotes expire this week
The notes in question. Photo: Micke Larsson/TT

Make sure you don't forget to spend your old Swedish 20, 50 and 1,000 kronor notes, which will no longer be legal tender by the end of the week.

Foul-mouthed attack on young Swedish mother in England
York from above. Photo: Peter Czerwinski

The woman was told to go back to her own country after she was heard speaking Swedish to her children.

Meat-free days soaring in Swedish schools
Meat-free days are up by as much as 80 percent in Swedish schools. Photo: Lunds Universitet/TT

The number of Swedish schools ditching meat has grown significantly according to a study of municipal environmental credentials by a sustainability magazine.

Why these recalled Ikea drawers ‘can result in death’
Ikea demonstrates the potential danger at a news conference in Washington. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP/TT

Swedish furniture giant Ikea said on Tuesday that 35 million chests and dresser units recalled in North America can 'result in death or injuries to children' if not properly anchored.

The Local List
Five things to do in Stockholm when it empties for summer
Photo: Henrik Trygg/visitstockholm.com

The Swedish capital can feel a bit empty during the summer, but fear not, there are ways to enjoy it.

Brexit: Swedes in the UK
'My Swedish friends and I talk about moving to Scotland'
Moving further north is one post-Brexit option touted by a UK-based Swede The Local spoke to. Photo: Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/TT Hasse Holmberg/TT

The Local speaks to UK-based Swedes on the impact they think Brexit will have on their lives and their future plans in the country.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Is this Swede the new Vincent van Gogh?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Politics
Citizenship applications up 500% for Brits in Sweden
National
The humble Swede who sent England home from Euro 2016
Blog updates

28 June

A message for British expats in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. As Prime Minister…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Gallery
Property of the week: Torhamn
Sponsored Article
International students in Stockholm partner with Nepal school
International
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
International
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
International
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
People-watching: June 22nd
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Private
The Local Voices
'Swedes don't treat me differently because I wear a hijab'
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
3,308
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se