"Five of those abducted have already been returned to Japan, North Korea had previously stated, with the remaining eight having already died."
Tokyo, May 29 - North Korea has agreed to reinvestigate its past reports of abduction of Japanese nationals, media reported Thursday.
The Japanese media took it as a significant breakthrough over the decade-old problem that has long troubled the two countries' relations, Xinhua reported.
As a result of Japan-DPRK (North Korea) talks, the DPRK has promised to make a comprehensive and overall investigation into (the cases of) all the Japanese, including abduction victims and missing people whose possibility of being abducted cannot be rule out, Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe told reporters at his office Thursday evening.
He made the announcement a day after the two countries ended three-day intergovernmental talks in Stockholm.
After meeting with relevant ministers who participated in the talks, the prime minister also disclosed that North Korea would set up a special investigation committee to make progress.
According to Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the special investigation committee may need three weeks to start work.
When it launches the probe, Japan would lift part of sanctions on DPRK, such as personal flows and DPRK's ships entering Japanese ports, Suga told reporters in a separate press conference later.
He also said that that the Japanese government might discuss the issue of providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea at an appropriate time.
North Korea had said in 2002 that it abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, but talks on the issue were shelved in December 2012, when North Korea launched a long-range missile.
Five of those abducted have already been returned to Japan, North Korea had previously stated, with the remaining eight having already died.
Japan has said, however, it was not convinced of the deaths of the eight abducted people and believed might be more abducted people still unaccounted for, pending what it has described as a lack of credible evidence, but North Korea maintained that the matter remained resolved.