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Thursday, 27th October 2011
In Japan Sports News, Sports,

Japanese take game to North Koreans for first time in two decades

The Japanese football team are due to play a match in North Korea for the first time in 22-years.

However, the meeting of the two nations on North Korean ground has sparked controversy as the Japanese government ponders lifting a de-facto ban preventing citizens entering the host country, the Japan Times reported.

Under current guidelines Japanese residents are discouraged from making the trip to North Korea, however, the government has recognised many football fans will be clambering to see their team compete in the third match of the 2014 World Cup Asian qualifying round in Pyongyang.

Officials are worried about what might become of fans who find themselves in trouble in their foreign neighbour's land.

Chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura said: "The match in North Korea is an important one, and the government wants to support the Japanese team as much as possible," the news provider quoted.

Still, more obstacles face the heads of state as the defence minister Yashuo Ichikawa and defence secretary Leon Panetta met to discuss North Korea's current behaviour in Tokyo on Tuesday (October 25th).

Although there are no diplomatic relations between the Japanese and North Korean capitals, an official in the foreign ministry's exchange programs division confirmed final emergency guidelines for travelling fans would be established once the government makes its decision.

However, travel agencies have already sought to capitalise on the potential lift, with many offering top deals for fans set on seeing their team in action in Pyongyang.

In other football news, teenage striker Takashi Usami helped his team make it through to the third round of the German Cup after scoring his first goal for Bayern Munich.

He told the Mainichi Daily: "I'm glad I got one on the score sheet. I've never had that experience in my football career - coming on and going out like that on my debut. I thought I had to bounce back and make an impact."

His side beat Ingolstadt 6-0 yesterday.

Posted by Mark Smith  

Related news stories:
Japan 'could help' dismantle N Korean nukes (21st October 2008)
Japanese minister apologises for Korean rule (11th February 2010)