A supra-partisan group of members and former members of local assemblies nationwide is considering visiting North Korea from late April to early May. They are aiming at forming a delegation of some 100 members for the purpose of exchanging views with senior officials of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in the belief that “dialogue is necessary to make North Korea change its policies,” according to a prospective participant in the visit.
This information was revealed by several sources connected with the planned delegation. While the Japanese government emphasizes its position that “dialogue for the sake of dialogues is meaningless” (in the words of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe), there has been a heightened mood of North-South rapprochement thanks to the PyeongChang Olympic Games, while the U.S. government has also indicated the possibility of engaging in preliminary talks with North Korea. These new developments have given rise to hopes that they could lead to a breakthrough.
Mamoru Kitahara, former vice speaker of the Fukuoka Prefectural Assembly (and former vice chairman of Komeito Fukuoka chapter) who chairs the Fukuoka Prefecture Japan-North Korea Friendship Association, is leading this group which is inviting members and former members of local assemblies to join the visit. If the trip is realized, the local lawmakers plan to call on both North Korea and the U.S. to exercise restraint in order to avoid war and to advocate dialogue instead of a one-sided pressure policy.
Kitahara and others also visited North Korea last October and were able to meet and exchange views with the deputy chief of the WPK International Department.