Osamu Tasaka, (L), director general of the International Department at the Japanese Red Cross, speaks during a press conference after a meeting with his North Korean counterpart in Beijing on August 10.
A report says Japan and North Korea will hold talks this month over the repatriation of the remains of Japanese nationals died in the North in the first half of the 20th century.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency said in a report on Monday that the two countries were at final stage of dialogue about holding formal talks in late August.
The Korean Peninsula was occupied and declared an Imperial Japanese protectorate in the 1905 Eulsa Treaty, and Japan officially annexed the peninsula in 1910. At the end of World War II in 1945, Soviet troops entered the peninsula and about 34,600 Japanese citizens died in what is now North Korea.
The talks would be the first dialogue between Japan and North Korea, which have no diplomatic ties and frosty relations, on the sensitive topic in four years.
So far the remains of some 13,000 Japanese have been repatriated but more than 21,000 others are still believed to be buried in North Korea.
Japanese government sources told Kyodo that the talks between the two neighbors are likely to be held in a third country, probably China.
Last week, Japanese and North Korean Red Cross officials agreed to repatriate the remains of Japanese nationals who died in the North during and immediately after World War II.