• Kyodo

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Lawmaker Antonio Inoki will visit North Korea for four days from Monday to promote sports exchanges and renew his proposal for a trip by a Diet delegation, sources said Wednesday.

Inoki, a former professional wrestler, opened a Pyongyang office of his nonprofit organization, Sports Peace Community Association, during his previous visit to the country last November.

He also received a positive response to the proposal at talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, and Kim Yong Il, director of the International Department of the Korean Workers’ Party, during the November visit.

The North Korean side told Inoki that response remained unchanged even with the Dec. 13 announcement that Jang had been executed, according to the sources. But there has been little or no movement in Japan toward sending a delegation.

Inoki, a House of Councilors member of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), went on the November Pyongyang visit during a Diet session without the required permission. The chamber later passed a resolution prohibiting him from attending the Diet for 30 days.

No Diet permission will be required for his upcoming trip as the legislature is not in session. But the government has asked citizens to refrain from visiting North Korea following sanctions it imposed over its missile and nuclear tests.

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