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Japan's wrestler-senator on a visit to Pyongyang

Published on Jan 12, 2014 1:15 PM
Japanese professional wrestler-turned-lawmaker Antonio Inoki (centre) is surrounded by reporters upon his departure at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Jan 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese professional wrestler-turned-lawmaker left on a visit to North Korea on Sunday for talks with officials after a high-profile leadership purge in the reclusive communist state.

"I will just check the faces of people standing on the stage after some change in the (North Korean leadership) structure," the senator, Antonio Inoki, told reporters before leaving Tokyo's Haneda airport, according to Jiji Press.

He is to fly into Pyongyang on Monday after a stopover in Beijing.

Mr Inoki, 70, is a frequent visitor to North Korea. During his last trip in November, he met Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un, who was long considered his key adviser. Jang was purged and executed last month after being branded a counter-revolutionary.

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