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Japan moves to ease North Korean sanctions

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that his government will lift some of its restrictions against North Korea.

Currently, the hermit kingdom's citizens, ships, and commerce are banned from Japan, but Abe's decision will ease travel restrictions and "allow port calls for humanitarian purposes," The Associated Press reports.

The announcement comes after North Korea agreed to reinvestigate the fate of at least 12 Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted in the 1970s and 1980s by North Korean agents. Abe told the AP he was "satisfied" with how North Korea is treating the investigation so far, calling the power granted to the investigative committee "unprecedented."

Abe's decision is expected to be formally approved by his cabinet on Friday. The AP reports that Japan will continue to follow U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, which include an arms trade ban and a freeze of North Korean assets.