By Kim Tae Hong
The North Korea national soccer team has been allowed entry into Japan for the first time in six years in order to play a preliminary World Cup qualifying game.
Permission was granted after the Japan Football Association requested that the government make an exception to rules put in place in response to North Korea’s failure to resolve the abductions issue and ongoing development of missiles, under which North Korean nationals are not ordinarily allowed to enter the country.
Accordingly, the squad of 33 arrived at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo via Beijing yesterday, where they were met by some 300 Korean-Japanese supporters.
The North Korean soccer authorities have forbidden the Japanese media from interacting with the squad in five different ways, including by following them, announcing the location of their accommodation, entering their training location or attempting to make contact with the players.
For their part, the Japanese authorities have moved to forestall any clashes between the two by forbidding the North Koreans from going beyond the perimeters of their accommodation, training ground and the match stadium.
The match between the two sides is due to take place in Saitama on September 2nd.