For the first time in four years, North Korea and Japan will hold direct talks over a range of bilateral issues.
The top item on the agenda at Wednesday's meeting in Beijing will be the return of the remains of Japanese nationals from World War II. But Japan reportedly also wants to raise the issue of its citizens abducted by North Korea to be trained as spies in the 1970s and '80s.
Japan believes there are more than a dozen abductees still alive in the North, although Pyongyang contends otherwise, saying the issue was closed in 2002 when five abductees were returned to Japan.
Pyongyang's priority for the talks is to secure economic and food aid from Tokyo.