TOKYO – The Japan Medical Association will send a senior official to North Korea in late September with an eye to providing medical aid in the future, an association source said Saturday.
The idea was proposed by JMA President Yoshitake Yokokura, who is close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It will be the first time an association member has visited North Korea for the purpose of providing medical aid, the JMA source said.
The association will send Mitsuaki Maseki, the chair of the association’s house of delegates, to North Korea and seven former lawmakers will accompany him, the source said.
Their visit from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 comes at a time when Abe is seeking a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without any preconditions attached in the hope of solving the issue of past abductions of Japanese nationals by the reclusive state.
The former lawmakers accompanying Maseki are planning to meet North Korean government officials to encourage a dialogue between Tokyo and Pyongyang toward resolving the abduction, nuclear and missile development issues, according to the source.
They will include Daizo Nozawa, former upper house member from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who had served as justice minister, and another former LDP upper house member Hideki Miyazaki who was once vice president of the JMA.
Another JMA source said the association wants to start building a trusting relationship with the North Korean side, planning on analyzing the current situation on the spread of tuberculosis and hepatitis B, which is said to be worsening, and will visit sites specializing in obstetrics and neonatal care.
Yokokura is believed to be considering sending doctors from Japan and providing training for those involved in North Korean healthcare.