Police on Friday arrested peace activist Chiyo Takahashi and three other people on suspicion of selling unapproved medicine.
The four, who also include Mutsukazu Komi, the 78-year-old president of a pharmaceutical retailing firm, are suspected of violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law by selling the medicine.
They also allegedly violated the law by not being properly licensed to sell pharmaceutical products, police said.
Takahashi is a 64-year-old Muslim who goes by the name Jamila Takahashi. She led a group of Japanese peace activists who acted as human shields in Baghdad when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003.
According to investigators, Takahashi sold 640 tablets of a concoction called Neomakisu, claiming it was effective in treating various diseases, including cancer, leukemia and AIDS, to a 37-year-old office worker in Mitaka in suburban Tokyo and two others for a total of 64,000 yen between May and December 2003.
Neomakisu is made of organic iodine and comes in tablets. The explanation on the package describes it as a nutritional supplement.
Komi’s firm, Makisu Honpo, has been manufacturing the tablets for about 35 years, according to investigators. He initially marketed it as a pick-me-up pill, but from around 1996 began selling it as a cure-all medicine.
Komi allegedly sold a total of 29,400 tablets for 2.88 million yen to four people, including Takahashi.
But the police analyzed Neomakisu and found it has no positive effects and could even be life-threatening if taken improperly, the sources said.
According to the police, Takahashi bought Neomakisu from a Japanese company using donations collected in the name of helping Iraqi people.
She claimed the tablets could cure illness caused by depleted uranium shells and delivered them to medical facilities in Iraq, according to sources close to the investigation.
In the 1991 Gulf War and the initial invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military used depleted uranium-tipped shells in the country against tanks and other hard military targets.
Iraqi doctors allege the weapons cause leukemia and cancer, but U.S. authorities deny there is any direct link between depleted uranium and the notable increase of cancer in Iraq since the 1991 war.
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, activists from around the world, including Japan, formed human shields at water purification and substation facilities on the outskirts of Baghdad to protest the war.
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