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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry filed a criminal complaint on Friday against precision instrument maker Mitutoyo Corp. and its executives on suspicion of unlawfully exporting two measuring devices that could be used to make nuclear weapons to Malaysia in 2001, ministry sources said.

The ministry lodged the accusation with the Metropolitan Police Department, accusing Mitutoyo of violating the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law, the sources said.

Mitutoyo is suspected of not properly describing the capabilities of the two items it was exporting in an apparent attempt to bypass government export checks, the sources said.

On Aug. 25, the Tokyo police searched Mitutoyo’s offices and arrested the president of the company and a former president.

Shortly before the arrest, METI raided Mitutoyo’s offices for more evidence to file the complaint, the sources said.

Mitutoyo, established in 1934 and based in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a leading manufacturer of high-tech precision measuring machines and runs a network of research institutes and factories in more than 20 countries.

Mitutoyo holds an overwhelming market share for slide calipers and micrometers in Japan. It logged consolidated sales of around 107 billion yen in the business year to March 31, 2006.

Police sources say one of the two in-line coordinate measuring machines in question was found in a nuclear facility in Libya by international nuclear inspectors during their 2003-2004 inspections.

The machines can be used to make centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

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