North Korea-Japan: The Korean Central News Agency reported on 14 May, "Isao Iijima, the special counselor in charge of crisis management for Japan's Abe Cabinet, and his companion arrived in Pyongyang on the 14th."
North Korean television broadcast video of Mr. Iijima stepping from a scheduled Air Koryo flight and being greeted by Kim Chol Ho, a vice director in the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Party Daily Rodong Sinmun published an article that declared "Japan's settlement of the past crimes is not a business-like matter. It is a political and moral issue for redeeming the past crimes against humanity and an issue to be settled under international law. This serves as a touchstone distinguishing whether Japan has the will to turn over a new leaf, drawing a lesson from its crime-woven history, or not."
Comment: Iijima is the only foreign emissary visiting North Korea. One of Iijima's responsibilities is management of the abduction issue, which refers to North Korean intelligence's kidnapping of 17 Japanese citizens between 1977 and 1983 to teach Japanese at the North Korean spy school. That is one topic of discussion that can get Japan's attention regardless of other sources of tension and sanctions.
The Rodong Sinmun article refers to the World War II practice by the Japanese army to abduct Korean women for use as "comfort women" for the troops.
A month ago North Korean threatened to bring nuclear fire on Tokyo. Now it is using the abduction issue to prevent complete isolation under the severe sanctions regime. Kaesong is a similar issue that it could use with South Korea at the right time.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Abe said Wednesday he might meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if it could help resolve the long-pending issue of Pyongyang's kidnapping of Japanese citizens. 'If a summit meeting is deemed as an important means in considering ways to resolve the abduction issue, we must take it into consideration as a matter of course in negotiating with them,' Abe told a parliamentary committee.
Comment: This begins to look like a thaw. It is entirely tactical, but better than threats.
North Korea-South Korea: The spokesman for the General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone gave an answer to a question put by KCNA on Wednesday.