Japanese lawmaker Inoki on way to Pyongyang

Japanese lawmaker Antonio Inoki on Monday left for Pyongyang, where he is expected to promote sports exchanges and renew his proposal for a trip by a Japanese parliamentary delegation.

The former professional wrestler told reporters at Beijing airport that he hopes to have a dialogue in Pyongyang that will be a "plus" both for Japan and North Korea.

During his previous visit to the country last November, he had talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was purged and executed in December, and Kim Yong Il, director of the International Department of the Korean Workers' Party.

Inoki, a House of Councillors member of the opposition Japan Restoration Party, carried out the November visit to Pyongyang during a parliamentary session without the required permission. The chamber later passed a resolution prohibiting him from attending parliament for 30 days.

No parliamentary permission was required for his latest trip as the Diet is not in session. But the Japanese government has asked citizens to refrain from visiting North Korea in line with sanctions against the country imposed over its missile tests.