Police raided six locations Thursday, including an Osaka business group affiliated with the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), over North Korea’s abduction of Tadaaki Hara in 1980, they said.
Police suspect a 74-year-old ex-chief of the business group, who also runs a Chinese restaurant in Osaka, was involved in Hara’s abduction. Hara worked as a cook there when he disappeared at age 43. The group, the restaurateur and the eatery weren’t identified.
The raids marked the first compulsory investigation by police into Hara’s case after they obtained an arrest warrant last month for North Korean agent Sin Guang Su, 76.
Sin is on an international wanted list on suspicion of obtaining a passport under Hara’s name in violation of Japan’s passport law. Pyongyang has admitted Hara was abducted to the reclusive state but claims he died there of cirrhosis in 1986.
Police sources said they will try to obtain other arrest warrants for several men, including Sin, on suspicion of involvement in Hara’s abduction, after examining the material they seized Thursday.
Among the other places searched Thursday were the Chinese restaurant and the home of the restaurant’s owner, also in Osaka, police said.
Police alleged that the restaurant head and Sin conspired with others to abduct Hara and take him by boat to North Korea from the Miyazaki coast in June 1980.
The restaurateur is also suspected of having taken Hara from Osaka to Miyazaki and handing him over to Sin.
“I know nothing about the (abduction) case,” the restaurateur had said earlier. “(The allegations) are totally unfounded.”
Protesting the compulsory investigation as an “abusive use of public authority,” Chongryun said the restaurateur headed the Osaka business group 26 years ago and claimed the group had nothing to do with the abduction. “It is a vicious manipulation of public sentiment and an extremely unreasonable political repression to deliberately link the abduction to Korean residents in Japan or Chongryun-affiliated groups,” it said.