TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) - A Japanese man arrived in China on Monday after North Korea expelled him for allegedly breaking the law during a visit there, Kyodo news agency said, citing a Japanese diplomatic source.
North Korea had decided to expel the tourist, who had been detained and investigated for an unspecified crime, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said at the weekend.
“There are various procedures to complete till his return to Japan,” Kyodo quoted a Japanese government source as saying. The man was expected to return home soon, the agency added.
Tomoyuki Sugimoto, who is believed to be a videographer from the prefecture of Shiga in central Japan, had apparently been caught filming a military facility in Nampo city, Kyodo and other Japanese media have said.
“The relevant institution of the DPRK decided to leniently condone him and expel him from the DPRK on the principle of humanitarianism,” KCNA said in its weekend report, using an abbreviation of the North’s official name.
Earlier on Monday, Japan said it was aware of the KCNA item.
“The government is putting in all its effort, but we refrain from commenting on details due to the nature of the issue,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
In Bejing, when asked if she could confirm the man had arrived in China, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said she had “no understanding” of the case.
In early August, Japanese media said government officials were trying to gather information on a man who had been detained in North Korea. [nL4N1V202R]
Japan has demanded that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons and missile programmes and has also sought the return of citizens kidnapped by the isolated state during the 1970s and 1980s.
It has said it will not provide economic aid to Pyongyang until that issue is resolved and normal diplomatic ties established.
Reporting by Josh Smith in SEOUL and Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Clarence Fernandez