A Korean resident in Japan suspected of having been involved in the abduction of a Japanese national in 1977 is also believed to have gathered military information for North Korea, investigative sources said Thursday.
The sources said the Korean man received spy training from a North Korean agent and collected information about the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. forces stationed in Japan before the abduction of Yutaka Kume.
The agent, whose Japanese last name is Yoshioka and Korean name is Kim, is different from the North Korean agent Kim Se Ho, 74, who is suspected of abducting Kume from the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture at age 52 in September 1977.
The Japanese police have obtained an arrest warrant for Kim Se Ho, and the National Police Agency is expected to soon ask Interpol to place him on an international wanted list.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a news conference Thursday that Japan “at an appropriate time” will demand that North Korea hand Kim Se Ho over to Japanese authorities.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department and Ishikawa prefectural police sources, the North Korean agent pressured the man to work as an accomplice by telling him stories about his relatives who had earlier returned to North Korea from Japan.
The agent took the man’s relatives in North Korea hostage so that he would have no choice but to cooperate, the sources said.
The sources added that this method of coercing Korean residents in Japan to work for Pyongyang by threatening to harm their relatives is a common practice under North Korea’s espionage activities.
The agent contacted the Korean man living in Tokyo around the summer of 1973. He was quoted by the sources as telling the man: “We want you to cooperate for the unification project. If you do so, we will be able to help your sister.” The man’s sister was sick at that time.
From the fall of that year the man then received spy training in decoding ciphers sent by short-wave radio and in compiling documents using special ink at a hideout in an apartment in Tokyo. He also gathered information about the SDF and U.S. forces, the sources said.
In addition, the Korean man was asked by the agent to have other Korean residents in Japan cooperate in the activities, the sources said.
The agent then disappeared, and Kim Se Ho, who is believed to have taken over the agent’s duties, contacted the man around August 1977.
Kim allegedly snatched Kume from Japan the following month.
The Korean man has admitted to the police that he handed Kume over to North Korean agents after taking him from the coast by rubber boat.
Although the Ishikawa Prefectural Police arrested the man, prosecutors later dropped the charge against him due to a lack of evidence.
Kume is one of 15 nationals recognized by the Japanese government as having been abducted by North Korea.
North Korea admitted to Japan in September last year that some of its agents abducted or lured 13 Japanese to the country, but Kume was not among them. Pyongyang has denied he has ever set foot in the country.
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