North Korean minister granted permission to enter Japan for Olympic meetings

  • North Koreans are usually banned from entering Japan as part of sanctions imposed for Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2018, 11:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2018, 4:14pm

North Korea’s sports minister Kim Il Guk arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday to attend a major international sports meeting later this week, after the Japanese government permitted his entry as a special case.

Japan has banned the entry of North Koreans as part of unilateral sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes. Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties.

Kim Il Guk, who also serves as the president of North Korea’s Olympic committee, is scheduled to attend the two-day general assembly meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) starting on Wednesday in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

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“International sports and the Olympics charter share this notion of no discrimination against any nationalities,” Suga said.

“On the basis of that, it is an exception that we have allowed minister Kim Il Guk, who is planning on coming to this week’s general assembly. We have allowed him to enter the country as an exception.”

There is no plan for any Japanese ministers to hold talks with Kim, the top government spokesman added.

This is not the first time Japan has waived the ban in the name of sports.

In February 2017, North Korean athletes and officials were granted permission to enter the country for the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo.

The ANOC general assembly will be attended by around 1,300 officials, including Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.