PYONGYANG, North Korea – North Korean soccer players are on their way to participate in the women's under-20 World Cup in Japan.
The team departed for Beijing on Tuesday and will continue on to Tokyo.
North Korea and Japan do not have diplomatic relations, and Tokyo has renewed sanctions against Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile activity.
The two nations also have a history of animosity that dates to Japan's colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945. North Koreans will celebrate the peninsula's liberation from Japan on Wednesday.
The delegation from Pyongyang is the largest to visit Tokyo since the sanctions were put into place in 2006. Japan has reportedly decided to issue special visas for the North Koreans.
North Korea is ranked eighth in the world in women's soccer.