Japan has agreed to lift some sanctions against North Korea, as the two countries continue talks on Japanese citizens kidnapped by Pyongyang.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said the move represents the start of a "comprehensive resolution" to the abduction issue. He provided no details on what sanctions would be lifted or when.
Tokyo and Pyongyang this week held talks at North Korea's embassy in Beijing to address the abductions, which have long been a major irritant to bilateral relations. The two countries do not have formal ties.
North Korea acknowledged in 2002 that it abducted 13 Japanese citizens to teach its spies about Japanese culture. Five of the abductees were returned. The North said the rest are dead, but many in Japan suspect at least a dozen more were kidnapped.