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Japanese gang member released from NKorea

Japanese gang member released from NKorea

A Japanese gang member returned home Wednesday from North Korea, where he had been detained for more than five years on drug smuggling charges, officials said.
Yoshiaki Sawada arrived at Narita International Airport near Tokyo via Beijing, airport police official Hiroyasu Kiuchi said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama confirmed on Tuesday his release, initially reported by North Korea's state media.
The North's official Korea Central News Agency said that Sawada was detained in October 2003 after allegedly trying to bribe a North Korean into buying drugs from a third country and smuggling them into Japan and that he was released as a "humanitarian measure" by the regime.
Sawada told reporters at the airport that he was a member of a major Japanese crime syndicate and had gone to North Korea to "check out a drug deal," according to the Kyodo News agency.
KCNA said Sawada had confessed "to his crime." It also said that Sawada was part of a plot to back accusations that North Korea uses its Mangyongbong-92 ferry to smuggle drugs to Japan.
Kiuchi said airport police officials had no plans to arrest or question Sawada immediately. Kodama added that Japanese authorities did not know what Sawada's alleged crime was and were not aware that he had violated Japanese law.
Kodama declined to comment on why North Korea freed Sawada or if Tokyo had negotiated his release.
Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties and are disputed over a row stemming from the North's abduction of Japanese nationals decades ago.


Updated : 2021-06-20 00:16 GMT+08:00