Japan and North Korea are holding their first government-to-government talks in four years amid hopes for a fresh approach on foreign relations from new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The talks that begin in Beijing are being closely watched for changes in both their tone and the topics raised.
Discussions have been frozen since August 2008 because of animosity over past frictions and disputes over the North's nuclear program and its kidnapping of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s.
Japan is pushing to have the highly emotional issue of the kidnappings included in the talks' agenda.
North Korea has admitted abducting 13 Japanese nationals and using them to train spies.
It pledged in the 2008 talks to reinvestigate the abductions, but has not done so.