It looks like Japan’s persistence in making the abductee issue central to relations with North Korea has resulted in the release of new information that could mean freedom for some of those kidnapped:

North Korea has given the United States information about several Japanese believed to be abductees, saying there are still a number of them in North Korea, and hinted at its willingness to send them home, Japanese government sources said Tuesday.

The people mentioned by North Korea are believed to be separate from the group of 12 Japanese that Tokyo recognizes as abduction victims.

It is believed that by suggesting the return of the abductees, North Korea hopes to bolster the image that it is making progress with the abduction issue, and encourage the United States to remove North Korea from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. It is also believed that the move is intended to sway Japan. It remains unknown whether the news will actually lead to the return of more abductees.

North Korea had previously insisted that no such abductees existed.

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