Pyongyang troupe cancels Japan tour

A children’s performance troupe from Pyongyang abruptly canceled on Monday a scheduled tour of Japan, apparently after the Foreign Ministry refused to issue entry certificates Friday to three North Korean officials accompanying the troupe, organizers said.

The troupe — 37 children and nine adults — had permission to enter Japan and were slated to give 23 performances at 13 locations during a monthlong tour until Nov. 26.

The three officials who were refused entry are members of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, the ministry said.

“We were contacted by our staff in Beijing on Monday morning about the sudden cancellation of the visit to Japan,” officials of the Korean Youth Commerce Community, which planned the performances as a symbol of the improvement of bilateral relations since the historic Sept. 17 North Korea-Japan summit, said in a statement.

North Koreans wishing to enter Japan require a travel certificate issued by the Foreign Ministry in lieu of a visa, due to the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries.