Police intercepted suspicious coded radio messages to and from a North Korean ship near the Noto Peninsula in 1977, shortly before security guard Yutaka Kume was apparently abducted nearby, sources said Friday.

The radio messages prompted Ishikawa Prefectural Police to set up security checkpoints at railway stations and on roads and ask local hotels and inns to report any suspicious activity, the sources said.

As a result, a woman managing an inn in Noto reported to police twice that two guests — Kume and a Korean man — were acting strangely, including eating meals without saying a word to each other and going out at midnight.

Shortly after Kume vanished, the innkeeper’s report led Ishikawa police to the Korean man, a permanent resident of Japan, who was arrested on suspicion of violating the Alien Registration Law.

Police searched his home for evidence tying him to Kume’s disappearance and found cipher codes. The man also claimed that Kume had been abducted and that he was involved, but he was never charged.

According to the sources, police monitored radio exchanges between the ship and North Korea for several days shortly before Kume disappeared.

The messages were in cipher signals used by the North Korean intelligence agency and the ship approached the Noto Peninsula from the direction of North Korea, the sources said.

The Metropolitan Police Department and Ishikawa police suspect the ship that sent and received the messages was used to take Kume to North Korea, the sources said.

Police believe the Korean man received instructions to help in the abduction through the same kind of cipher used by the ship, according to the sources.

The sources said the Korean received instructions from North Korean agent Kim Se Ho, 74, for whom the MPD has obtained an arrest warrant in connection with Kume’s abduction.

Police reopened their investigation into Kume’s disappearance after North Korea admitted Sept. 17 that it had abducted Japanese nationals.

The resumed investigation has led to a reevaluation of what police learned at the time of Kume’s disappearance, including the coded radio transmissions, the ciphers found in the Korean man’s home and his admission of involvement in the abduction.

It has also been discovered that Kim, who visited Japan on six occasions between 1977 and 1981 as a member of trading missions, held the rank of deputy head of a section within the intelligence gathering organ of the Workers Party of Korea. Japanese investigative sources believe Kim may have used these visits to meet up with and instruct agents in Japan as he did not take part in any of the official business scheduled for the trade missions.

Kume, who was a security guard at Mitaka City Hall in the suburbs of Tokyo, is believed to have been abducted by North Korean agents from Ishikawa Prefecture on Sept. 19, 1977.

North Korea, which has acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has denied any knowledge of Kume.

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