He’s always marched to the beat of his own drum, but wrestler-turned-upper-house-legislator Antonio Inoki might have forgotten that he now has to follow parliament’s rules as well. Ignoring their disapproval of his request for the trip, Inoki still pushed through with his visit to North Korea to attend a sporting event in Pyongyang.
“I take full responsibility for the trip, and as much as possible I’ll make sure it doesn’t cause trouble for the public,” Inoki told reporters at Tokyo‘s Haneda Airport before flying off to his 27th trip to the reclusive state. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that the Upper House committee disapproved his request for permission to visit, as all lawmakers need approval to travel overseas when legislative sessions are still ongoing. The committee said he did not provide enough details about his trip and so they did not grant permission. “My request was turned down just because my filing was bad, so the trip itself shouldn’t be problematic,” he said. The parliament will probably discuss sanctions for Inoki when they meet this Tuesday.
Aside from the sporting event, Inoki, the first Japanese wrestler to be inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Hall of Fame, might also meet with high-ranked officials that are close to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un. Relations between Japan and its “hermit” neighbour are still rocky due to the latter’s continued refusal to stop its nuclear and missile program. Earlier this year, North Korea sent continuous nuclear threats against the United States and its allies, particularly South Korea and Japan. Tokyo and Pyongyang also do not have a diplomatic relationship because of the unresolved issues over the abduction of Japanese nationals in the 70s and 80s. Inoki is of the opinion that in order to improve the two countries’ relations, Japan has to downplay the incident. He refused to join a bipartisan group that is aiming to resolve that particular issue.
[ via Wall Street Journal ]