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N. Korean minister to enter Japan for Olympics meeting: Japan gov’t

TOKYO — The Japanese government said Tuesday it has decided to allow the entry of North Korean sports minister Kim Il Guk for a major international sports meeting later this week.


It is rare for a senior North Korean official to visit Japan as Tokyo has banned the entry of its neighbor’s nationals as part of unilateral sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties.


The North Korean minister of physical culture and sports is scheduled to join the two-day general assembly meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees to start Wednesday in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference. Tokyo is the host of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.


The government has decided to accept Kim as an “exceptional case” in light of the spirit of the international sports world that prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality, he said.


There is no plan for any Japanese ministers to hold bilateral talks with the North Korean official, the top government spokesman added.


The North Korean sports minister, who is also chairman of the country’s Olympic Committee, left Pyongyang on Saturday and is scheduled to arrive in Japan via Beijing later Tuesday.


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

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