Japanese police mount raids over 'illegal food exports' to North Korea

Japan has banned trade with North Korea as part of sanctions imposed on the country over its missile and nuclear programmes as well as the abduction of Japanese nationals.
Japan has banned trade with North Korea as part of sanctions imposed on the country over its missile and nuclear programmes as well as the abduction of Japanese nationals.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese police said Thursday (Dec 14) they had carried out several raids, reportedly in connection to alleged shipments of food to North Korea that would contravene sanctions.

Japan has banned trade with North Korea as part of sanctions imposed on the country over its missile and nuclear programmes as well as the abduction of Japanese nationals.

Investigators raided several places on suspicion of violating foreign exchange regulations, an official from the Kyoto Police Department told AFP, declining to comment further.

According to local media, police raided a Tokyo-based commercial association affiliated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, known as Chongryon, the de-facto North Korean embassy in Japan.

Police also raided a firm in Tokyo, the Asahi Shimbun said, adding that they are expected to soon arrest several people on suspicion of illegally exporting foods to the reclusive state via Singapore.

During last month's visit by US President Donald Trump in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to freeze the assets of North Korean groups and individuals.

The issue of abductions to North Korea is a highly-charged one in Japan, which suspects dozens of people were kidnapped by agents from the isolated country.