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Inoki returns, says Pyongyang set to air results of abductee probe

Kyodo

Diet member Antonio Inoki, upon his arrival Tuesday from North Korea after co-hosting a rare pro wrestling event in the country, said he believes Pyongyang is “pretty much ready” to announce the results of its investigation of missing Japanese suspected of being abducted to the hermit state.

During his stay from Aug. 28 in Pyongyang, Inoki, a former pro wrestling star, held talks with high-ranking officials. He met twice with Kang Sok Ju, a seasoned diplomat who plays a pivotal role in North Korea’s foreign affairs.

At Haneda airport late Tuesday, Inoki told reporters, “They are well aware of the fact that Japan is placing the abduction issue as its top policy priority.” But he didn’t go into details of his talks with North Korean officials.

The 71-year-old opposition party lawmaker called the sports event, dubbed the International Pro Wrestling Festival, “very successful” and said “everyone enjoyed it.”

As part of efforts to better relations with Japan, North Korea is investigating the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by its agents in the 1970s and 1980s. The abduction issue has been one of the major sticking points in bilateral negotiations.

Leader Kim Jong Un, who has a strong interest in sports, did not attend the wrestling exhibition, which brought together 21 fighters from Japan, Brazil, China, France and the United States.