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The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department obtained on Wednesday an arrest warrant for a North Korean agent suspected of luring Yutaka Kume to Pyongyang in 1977, police officials said.

The National Police Agency is expected to soon ask Interpol to place the agent, Kim Se Ho, 74, on an international wanted list.

Kim visited Japan six times between 1977 and 1981, sometimes disguising himself as a trading company employee while working as a senior official of an external intelligence department of the Workers Party of Korea, according to police sources.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters at his office that he expects investigative authorities to make every effort to throw light on the case.

Kume disappeared from the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture at age 52. He is believed to have been talked into going to North Korea by a Korean resident of Japan. Pyongyang denies Kume has ever set foot on its shores.

Kume apparently departed Japan with Kim and his accomplices via boat from the Ushitsu coast in the Ishikawa town of Noto, according to investigations.

The Korean resident is said to have told police earlier that he was instructed by an agent from North Korea to find a Japanese bachelor and talk him into going to Pyongyang. Police could not identify the agent at that time.

Kume was working as a security guard at Mitaka City Hall in the western Tokyo suburb at the time of his disappearance. He is one of 15 nationals recognized by the government as having been abducted or lured to North Korea.

In September, Pyongyang admitted to Japan that some of its agents had abducted or lured 13 Japanese to North Korea, but said Kume was not among them.

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