NIIGATA – A citizens’ group urged Niigata Gov. Ikuo Hirayama on Monday to allow a North Korean passenger-cargo ship to continue to enter Niigata port.
In February, Hirayama asked Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe to consider legislation to regulate the entry of the Man Gyong Bong-92 due to allegations that it has been used for espionage activities.
The citizens’ group said that while it condemns North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals during the 1970s and 1980s, it believes stricter regulations at the port will only increase tensions between the two nations.
Takaki Nishino, a senior prefectural official, told the group: “If there is a problem (with the Man Gyong Bong-92), we cannot ignore it. We are asking the national government to establish laws that can address the problem.”
There have been growing calls in Japan to limit the ship’s port calls after Tokyo police alleged in January that a former North Korean agent living in Japan had received espionage orders while aboard the vessel.
The Man Gyong Bong-92 travels between North Korea’s Wonsan and Niigata to transport goods and passengers, mostly pro-Pyongyang Korean permanent residents of Japan visiting the North.
Japan has no diplomatic ties with North Korea.
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