A gangster with the same name as a Japanese trader reportedly arrested in North Korea on drug-smuggling charges left Japan for Beijing earlier this month, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Yoshiaki Sawada, 42, left Narita airport on Oct. 10, and although the ministry has made inquiries to the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, it has had no response so far, officials said.

Sawada, from Tokyo, is a member of a Japanese underworld syndicate and has entered North Korea several times, a government source said.

North Korea’s news agency reported Thursday that a Japanese trader named Yoshiaki Sawada “is now under investigation by a competent institution for his attempted drug-smuggling” and will be “sternly dealt with.”

The (North) Korean Central News Agency report identified Sawada as a department director of Enterprise Co. and said he entered the country on Oct. 14 “under the pretext of trade” and had “planned to bribe a North Korean into buying drugs from a third country and smuggle them into Japan . . . at the instruction of his master.”

Japanese police and the coast guard, in cooperation with the Chinese authorities, have in recent years seized ships carrying stimulant drugs thought to be bound for Japan. The drugs were believed to have been produced in North Korea, sources said.

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