The families and supporters of Japanese abducted by North Korea said Sunday they would not oppose any move to lift Japan's sanctions against the North, provided Pyongyang returns all abductees immediately while their parents are alive.

The group held a meeting and compiled a policy for their future activities, affirming that they would not object to the Japanese government providing humanitarian aid to North Korea if the victims were repatriated.

But they also said that if the victims are not returned home, they "will vehemently demand tougher sanctions."

In addition to joining the international framework to punish North Korea for its nuclear and missile development, Japan has also unilaterally imposed sanctions, including banning port calls by a North Korean cargo-passenger ferry.

The meeting came as Japan and North Korea have been increasingly seen as exploring the possibility of a summit between Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yo Jong, the leader's sister, said this month that Kishida's visit to Pyongyang is possible if Japan does not make the abduction issue an obstacle, according to North Korea's state-run media.

She reiterated in a statement that the issue of abductions in the 1970s and 1980s had already been settled.

The victims' families said Sunday such a claim is unacceptable. As for the mention of the prime minister's visit to North Korea, they said, "It requires careful consideration and analysis, but it is an event that deserves attention."

Photo taken Feb. 25, 2024, shows Takuya Yokota (far R) and his mother Sakie (far L) at a press conference in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

Takuya Yokota heads the group of families and told a press conference, "It is really difficult to maintain calm and try to have a dialogue."

But he also said, "I want to see Megumi, and I want my mother to be reunited. All the families feel the same way, and for that reason, we will compromise where we have to," he said, referring to his sister, who was kidnapped in 1977 by North Korean agents at age 13.

Their mother, Sakie, who turned 88 this month, also attended the meeting. "I don't feel anxious about getting older. I believe she (Megumi) is doing well. I hope she has somehow survived."

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