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Inoki meets with North Korea’s ceremonial head of state

Kyodo

High-profile opposition lawmaker Antonio Inoki on Saturday met with North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam following moves by the two countries to improve bilateral relations.

The meeting between Inoki, a former pro-wrestling star who is in Pyongyang to co-host a two-day combat sports event over the weekend, and Kim took place after the two countries resumed official negotiations to resolve major outstanding issues about six months ago.

In early July, Japan lifted some unilateral sanctions against North Korea in return for its opening of a fresh probe into the whereabouts of at least 12 Japanese citizens abducted decades ago.

Although Inoki, whose real first name is Kanji, is not representing the Abe government, he has developed a special connection with North Korea.

Inoki, on his 30th visit to North Korea, is most likely to have discussed thorny bilateral issues with the 86-year-old Kim, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the country.

Japan is waiting to receive the first report from a new North Korean investigative committee on its findings about the abduction issue in September.