Chongryon official OK’d to return

Kyodo

The government will allow the re-entry of a senior member of a pro-Pyongyang Korean residents’ group who departed Japan for North Korea before Tokyo strengthened its sanctions against the country following its third nuclear test last week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

Japan cannot legally block the re-entry of Pae Jin Gu, a vice chairman of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), noting he was already abroad when Japan strengthened its sanctions against North Korea, Suga told reporters.

Pae traveled to North Korea to attend commemorative events in the country marking the Feb. 16 birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Japan initially banned the re-entry of four pro-Pyongyang residents, including Chongryon Chairman Ho Jong Man, and has added another five, including Pae, to the list following the test.

Under the latest set of sanctions, Pae will not be allowed to re-enter Japan if he leaves the country again, government officials said.