Wrestler turned lawmaker Antonio Inoki is on his way back to Japan from a 3-day trip to North Korea after attending several events and meeting with some Pyongyang officials. He will most likely face some sanctions from the Diet as house members are required to obtain permission for overseas trips while the legislature is in session.
The Upper House steering committee did not give their approval for his trip, saying his reasons for the visit, which happens to be his 27th trip to the reclusive state, were unclear. While there in Pyongyang, Inoki attended several sports events and opened a local office for his nonprofit organization that focuses on sports exchanges with other countries. He also met with Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Kim Yong Il, the director of the International Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and several other top aides and senior officials. But he did not reveal what was the nature of his meetings when asked about it.
What he said was that he doesn’t care what will happen when he returns to Japan but will accept whatever punishment is thrown his way. Tokyo and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations, mostly due to the latter’s refusal to discontinue their missile and nuclear weapons program. The issue over the abduction of Japanese citizens during the 70s and 80s is another bone of contention between the two countries. In fact, the Japanese government advises its citizens to avoid traveling to the “hermit kingdom”. Inoki however is one of those who have maintained their close ties with North Korea.
[ via Global Post ]