TOKYO North Korea has declared void an agreement to reopen a probe into the fate of abducted Japanese citizens after Japan imposed sanctions following Pyongyang's rocket launch, Asahi newspaper reported on Saturday.
North Korea will disband a committee set up in 2014 to look into the whereabouts of Japanese abductees, the newspaper said, citing media reports from North Korea.
Japan said on Wednesday it was imposing sanctions on North Korea after a satellite launch seen by Washington and allies, including Tokyo, as cover for development of ballistic missile technology that could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon.
Pyongyang admitted in 2002 to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens decades ago. Five abductees and their families later returned to Japan but Tokyo wants to know the fate of the remaining eight, who Pyongyang has said are dead, and others that Japan believes were also kidnapped.
Japan eased some sanctions on North Korea in July 2014 in return for the North reopening its probe into the status of the abduction issues, but little progress has been made.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday it was deplorable for North Korea to unilaterally disband the committee, Kyodo news agency reported. He also said Japan was not going to scrap the agreement made by the two countries.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita and Linda Sieg; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2016 09:45 AM