• Kyodo

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A business executive and two others were arrested Thursday for allegedly exporting food and other items to North Korea in violation of the government’s export ban, police said.

Yuzuru Yachita, president of a Tokyo-based company, and two others are suspected of shipping around 1,500 boxes of food and other items, worth around ¥7.16 million ($63,500) to North Korea via a Singapore firm, breaching the foreign exchange and foreign trade law, the police said.

Since June 2009, the Japanese government has banned any exports to North Korea as part of economic sanctions following a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests by Pyongyang.

The government extended the sanctions this spring for two years through April 2019, as it judged maintaining pressure on North Korea was necessary given that little progress has been made on past abductions of Japanese nationals by the North or Pyongyang’s continued nuclear and missile development.

Items exported to North Korea by the three included instant food and snacks, as well as daily items such as soap and shampoo, the police said.

On Thursday police searched offices in Tokyo affiliated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, a pro-Pyongyang organization known as Chongryon, in connection with the allegation, and they will investigate relations between the association and Yachita’s company.

Earlier in the day, the police also searched premises of Yachita’s company, M-Create Inc., in Tokyo and other locations. The company, established in 2007, makes cigarette butt collection machines for commercial outlets.

The arrest of the three is the latest police crackdown on illegal trade with North Korea.

In May 2015, a son of the chief of Chongryon was arrested over alleged illegal import deals for “matsutake” mushrooms from North Korea, while in February last year an ethnic Korean businessman was arrested on suspicion of exporting food and clothing to the North.

The Korean Committee for Aiding Overseas Compatriots criticized Japanese police in December last year, calling the investigations a serious infringement of national sovereignty.

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