Japanese police arrested the son of Chongryon’s chief

According to the Japan Times ”

Police on Tuesday arrested three men, including the son of the head of the pro-Pyongyang group Chongryon, on suspicion of illegally importing a shipment of matsutake mushrooms from North Korea.

Masamichi Kyo, 50, whose father is Chongryon chief Ho Jong Man, runs a Tokyo-based company affiliated with the organization.

The investigation — carried out by Kyoto police and three other prefectural police forces — involved raids in March on sites related to Chongryon, also known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

Members of pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) applaud during a ceremony to mark 50th anniversary of the establishment of the association at Tokyo Korean junior and senior high school in Tokyo May 24, 2005. Huge portraits of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung (L) and his son, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-il are seen behind them. REUTERS/Issei Kato  IK/TC/VP
Members of pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) applaud during a ceremony to mark 50th anniversary of the establishment of the association at Tokyo Korean junior and senior high school in Tokyo May 24, 2005. Huge portraits of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung (L) and his son, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-il are seen behind them. REUTERS/Issei Kato IK/TC/VP

The group has functioned for decades as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan in the absence of diplomatic ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang.

Kyo’s arrest could further complicate bilateral ties, given that the initial raid prompted North Korea to lash out, with Pyongyang declaring that talks with Japan would now be “difficult” to achieve.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that police are “conducting their investigations based on law and evidence.”

A source close to Chongryon said Kyo is widely regarded as Ho’s bookkeeper, although he kept a low profile at Chongryon and only served in a senior post at one of the group’s local chapters in Tokyo.

The two other individuals arrested were Kim Yong Jak, 70, the president of the company Kyo works for, and Kazuhide Yamanaka, 63, a senior official at a related company.

The three are suspected of conspiring with two other men on Sept. 27, 2010, to import illegally via China some 1,800 kg of matsutake mushrooms from North Korea. The shipment was worth around ¥4.5 million.

“This is a false accusation,” Kyo said as he was escorted by investigators out of his condominium following his arrest Tuesday morning.

Officers quoted him as saying, “I will not cooperate as this is an unjustified arrest.”

The police suspect the mushroom shipment was part of North Korea’s bid to acquire hard currency, as Japan has maintained an embargo on imports from North Korea since October 2006. The measure is part of a package of sanctions by Tokyo on Pyongyang for its missile and nuclear tests.”

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