05 January 2010

Japan to allow North Korean women’s team visas

TOKYO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Japan is to allow the North Korean women’s soccer team to visit Tokyo for regional championships next month, a government spokesman said on Tuesday, despite sanctions in force against Pyongyang.

The decision was taken despite a statement by Japan’s justice minister last month that the players were unlikely to be granted visas allowing them to take part in the East Asian championships.

“Basically we have decided to approve it, because it is for sport,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told a news conference. “But we will conduct the appropriate immigration inspections.”

Japan imposed sanctions on North Korea after the communist state carried out its first nuclear test in 2006, including a ban on almost all visits by North Korean citizens

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