Jang Song Thaek, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle who was executed in 2013, visited Japan in 1983 and 1991 under false identities, public security authorities of Japan and South Korea said Tuesday.
The authorities believe Jang, who served as Kim’s guardian and was considered the country’s second-most powerful figure, came to Japan using a fake North Korean passport to get a grasp of the social situation in Japan and also to receive treatment for a chronic illness.
North Korea announced in December 2013 that Jang, vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, had been executed as a “traitor.”
Jang was ousted from power for “perpetrating anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership,” the government said.
The authorities said Jang entered Japan in April 1983 and in September 1991.
For the 1983 trip, he came as a board member of a mass dance group. Records show that the performing arts group of North Korean students stayed in Japan for two months around the same time.
A source close to Japan-North Korea ties said Jang was then a high-ranking official of a youth organization under North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party.
In 1991, Jang entered Japan as part of a government mission.
In 1990, negotiations to normalize diplomatic ties between Japan and North Korea were launched under the administration of then Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, leading to an increase in traffic from North Korea.
Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011.