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North Korea expels detained Japanese on principle of humanitarianism

North Korea expels detained Japanese on principle of humanitarianism

North Korea expels detained Japanese on principle of humanitarianism
August 27
12:51 2018

North Korea says it has expelled a detained Japanese man accused of breaking the country’s law during a visit earlier this month.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a two-sentence report on Sunday that Tomoyuki Sugimoto had been “kept under control” for questioning about “his crime” in the North.

Korean authorities decided “to leniently condone him” and expel him “on the principle of humanitarianism,” the agency added.

A Japanese government source also confirmed the report, saying that Sugimoto had been deported and was now in China, according to Kyodo News agency based in Tokyo.

“There are various procedures to complete till his return to Japan,” the source told Kyodo on condition of anonymity.

 The Japanese government, however, declined on Monday to answer questions about the prospects and timing of Sugimoto’s return to Japan.

“Given the nature of the matter, I will refrain from comment,” said chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Two weeks ago, the Japanese government said, Tomoyuki Sugimoto “was kept under control by a relevant institution to be inquired into his crime against the law of the DPRK,” using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The man, 39, had apparently been suspected of filming a military facility, while he was on a group tour to Nampo, a western port city, which is home to a major naval base, shipyard and missile factory.

Tokyo had sought his release through the North Korean embassy in Beijing, according to Kyodo.

Tokyo and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations.

The developments come amid a rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula, involving Pyongyang on the one side, and Seoul and its ally Washington on the other.

The North released three US detainees in May in an apparent goodwill gesture before a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-unn and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Japan has maintained a hard line on Pyongyang, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has floated the idea of holding a summit with Kim to resolve all pending issues and build “new Japan-North Korea relations.”

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Alexander Ionov

Alexander Ionov

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