TOKYO, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government on Monday said it had no problem with a potential visit by upper house lawmaker Antonio Inoki to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Following Japan's lifting some of its sanctions against Pyongyang, as the latter committed to reopening its investigations into its abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, the government here said it has no plans to prevent Inoki's or other lawmaker's trips.
"We do not intend to take specific steps against travel from Japan to the DPRK," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was quoted as telling a regular press conference.
"We understand that Mr. Inoki and other lawmakers are visiting the DPRK for their own reasons. For our part, the government will closely watch how the DPRK will conduct the probe by its special investigation committee based on our bilateral accord," he said.
Inoki, a former professional wrestling star in Japan, now serves as a lawmaker for the Japan Restoration Party in the upper house of parliament. Inoki has expressed his desire to visit the DPRK along with other lawmakers on Wednesday.
Japan last week said it will ease restrictions on travel between the two countries and those on fund transfers to and cash carried into the DPRK. The lifting of sanctions will also see flag- bearing ships from the DPRK allowed to dock in Japanese ports, provided their purposes are "humanitarian" in nature. The Mangyongbong-92 passenger-cargo ferry will be prohibited from entering, however.
Inoki first entered politics in 1989, when he was elected into the upper house as a representative of his own Sports and Peace Party.
In 1991, following the outbreak of the Gulf War, Inoki personally organized a wrestling event in Iraq, aimed at freeing 41 captive Japanese nationals. Following a failure to get reelected into the upper house on numerous occasions, however, and being hit with a number of notable scandals, Inoki took a hiatus, returning to politics in 2013.
But having returned to Japan's upper house as a lawmaker in 2013, he was later suspended from the Diet for 30 days because of an unauthorized trip to the DPRK.
The former wrestler took the tour on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the armistice in the Korean War, and the tour marked Inoki's 27th visit to the DPRK.
Inoki explained the reason for the trip was to enhance communication between Japan and the DPRK, as the abductions issue had prompted Japan to close the door to dialogue with the DPRK.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a parliamentary committee recently that a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been discussed and the premier himself has hinted at a possible trip if the abductions proceedings hit a decisive stage, a tacit nod to potentially thawing relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang.
Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the DPRK in an official capacity in 2002 and 2004, in two separate bids to normalize ties between the two nations.