Japanese and North Korean negotiators have begun landmark talks aimed at normalising diplomatic ties.
Both sides said they would try to bridge their many differences, including Tokyo's concerns over North Korean missiles, and Pyongyang's call for an apology for Japan's colonial rule.
The two sides last sat down at the negotiating table in 1992 - talks broke down after Japan accused North Korean agents of kidnapping Japanese citizens.
Japan wants talks on North Korea's missiles
Tokyo's chief negotiator, Kojio Takano, acknowledged that difficult issues would be addressed.
"I want to achieve mutual understanding so we can overcome those issues. We have a
great determination to bring these talks to a conclusion."
His counterpart, Jong Thae-Hwa, said the two sides should see the five-day talks through to the end.
"The path we are going to take is in no way easy. The
question is whether or not we have the will and determination."
The talks in Pyongyang come at a time when the secretive Stalinist state has embarked on a series of diplomatic discussions.
The famine that claimed millions of lives has also pushed the country to end its isolation and seek Western aid.
Famine has claimed millions of lives in North Korea
North Korea is expected to raise the contentious issue of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910-45.
It has demanded an apology and compensation.
Japanese officials said earlier that although compensation was not option, Tokyo would be ready to offer an apology.
For its part, Tokyo is demanding that North Korea's missile programme be discussed. In 1998, a ballistic missile was fired over Japan.
It also wants to raise the issue of 10 missing Japanese citizens, believed to be kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s.
North Korea has denied the allegation, and promised an investigation into the fate of those missing.