• Kyodo

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The Kanagawa Prefectural Police raided a Tokyo trading house Thursday on suspicion of attempting to export a machine part to North Korea that could be used for weapons of mass destruction, investigative sources said.

The Toko Boeki trading house in Shinjuku Ward is suspected of violating the foreign trade control law for allegedly attempting to export to North Korea a magnetic measurement device that could be used for missiles or other weapons of mass destruction last year and this year via Southeast Asia, the sources said.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry asked the company to apply for permission before trying to ship the device through the port of Yokohama, but the firm tried to put the export plan forward without approval.

Despite METI’s strict criteria for exporting products and technologies convertible for military or nuclear development use, there have been some notable cases of unauthorized exports to North Korea and the Middle East via a third country.

In 2007, the International Atomic Energy Agency found a Japanese-made vacuum pump being used in a nuclear facility in North Korea. The Kanagawa police in 2008 sent a case to prosecutors on a Tokyo trade agent on suspicion of exporting the device to North Korea via Taiwan.

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