Yoshiro Mori, head of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee, has asked the International Olympic Committee to keep in mind North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals while working on the reclusive country’s possible participation in the games.
“I hope the IOC will proceed with the matter fully mindful of the feelings of Japanese people” toward North Korea, the former prime minister told reporters on Monday.
The request came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly notified visiting IOC President Thomas Bach on Friday of his country’s willingness to join the Tokyo-hosted quadrennial sports event.
Mori said he appreciated Bach’s efforts behind North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, held in South Korea in February.
But Mori also said, “It’s a very big problem to kidnap people from other countries and never return them,” referring to the issue of abductions decades ago of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents.
On Tuesday, Shunichi Suzuki, minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, told a news conference that he will wait for coordination between the Tokyo organizing committee, the IOC and North Korea.
“Our basic position is that it’s better to have more countries as the Olympics are a festival of peace,” Suzuki said.