Yoshihide Suga said Japan would pay close attention to North Korea's relationship with the IOC ©Getty Images

Japan's chief cabinet secretary has said the country will pay "close attention" to the relationship between North Korea and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the build-up to Tokyo 2020.

Yoshihide Suga's comments today came after IOC President Thomas Bach's historic visit to North Korea last week.

The German met with the country's supreme leader Kim Jong-un while in the secretive state, who reportedly confirmed their participation at both Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022.

"They announced to us that they will definitely participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as well at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022," Bach told Agence France-Presse following the talks in Pyongyang.

This creates a diplomatic issue for Japan which currently bans North Korean citizens from entering the country.

Relations between the two nations are severely strained after Kim fired two ballistic missiles over Japanese territory as part of his country's nuclear testing.

There is also lingering tension over the abductions of Japanese citizens by agents of the North Korean Government, which occurred during a period of six years from 1977 to 1983.

Suga said that Japan "were closely following the talks and would make the necessary efforts to collaborate with the appropriate organisations to ensure that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are successful", according to reports in EFE.

It was also announced today that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe will meet with American President Donald Trump to discuss North Korea.

North Korean missile launches around and over Japanese territory have caused huge tension between the countries ©Getty Images
North Korean missile launches around and over Japanese territory have caused huge tension between the countries ©Getty Images

Bach's trip to the country came after the North competed at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. 

The build-up to the Games featured strained rhetoric between Kim and Trump over the former's nuclear programme and missile launches.

Kim, however, made a surprise New Year's Day announcement that his country would be prepared to compete in Pyeongchang.

This led to an IOC-led meeting in Lausanne where the nation's participation was confirmed and details ironed out.

A total of 22 athletes from North Korea competed and both the North and South, which are still technically at war, marched together at the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The two countries also joined forces to form a combined women's ice hockey team.

Further moves saw a squad of cheerleaders deployed and, arguably most significantly of all, a high-level North Korean delegation travelled which included Kim Yo-jong - the sister of the leader.

The IOC have hailed the North's involvement as a symbol of peace and Kim and Trump will now reportedly meet.

It is claimed the North Korean leader is open to halting his nuclear and missile tests and is "committed to denuclearisation".

Many people are still unconvinced that the apparent cooling of tensions will be anything more than a momentary thing, however.