Tokyo is pushing for a hotline connecting it with Pyongyang as North Korea reopens a probe into the whereabouts of Japanese citizens abducted in the 1970s and 80s.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo and Pyongyang are "in communication" about the hotline and other measures to be taken until North Korea produces results.
He suggested that Tokyo is after a "constant communication channel" with Pyongyang, which can be extraordinary cumbersome to get in touch with, but said the details have not been decided.
The hotline would greatly facilitate direct communication by phone or fax, rather than through the two countries’ embassies in Beijing or a pro-North Korean organization in Tokyo, Chongryon, which they rely on now.
Seoul already has a more comprehensive hotline with Pyongyang for military and security purposes, which runs through the truce village of Panmunjom but is vulnerable to North Korean fits of pique that put it out of action for protracted periods.
In a meeting with the families of abduction victims last Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan should be prepared to watch closely and proactively how the negotiations between the two countries and the probe proceed.