BEIJING--North Korea plans to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and “cooperate with” South Korea, Upper House member Antonio Inoki said here on Sept. 11 on his way back from Pyongyang.

“North Korea intends to participate (in the Tokyo Olympics) and wants to cooperate, with both South and North Korea joining hands,” Inoki quoted a North Korean official telling him during his visit for the 70th anniversary of the country's founding on Sept. 9.

Inoki, 75, a former professional wrestler who has advocated sports exchanges between Japan and North Korea, spoke to reporters at a Beijing airport.

Inoki, who met with Ri Su Yong, vice chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea on Sept. 8, emphasized the importance of Japan holding direct talks with North Korea.

“With the channel of communication (between the two countries) closed at the moment, it is important (to learn) what are the true intentions (of North Korea),” Inoki said.

Inoki said he also discussed with Ri the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea, but did not disclose specifics of their conversation.

He quoted Ri as saying, “I will talk about the issue because you are here, but please don’t tell anyone what I said.”

Inoki, who said he just underwent lower back surgery, was in a wheelchair.

“They really appreciated my visit under such circumstances,” he said.