(Sankei: February 5, 2016 – p. 2)
The Public Security Bureau of the Metropolitan Police Department arrested Pak Chae Hun, a former senior official of Korea University on suspicion of fraud. The suspect seems to have been directing political maneuvers in South Korea based on instructions from North Korea’s foreign intelligence service.
Japan was apparently chosen as the base for his political maneuvering because of its advantage of the vulnerability. Indeed, Japan is ridiculed as “a heaven for spies.”
“Will Japan remain “a heaven for spies?”
The investigative second section of the criminal investigation division is normally in charge of fraud cases. This fact indicates the difficulties that the public security bureau faced in this investigation.
Pak’s is alleged to have illegally obtained a credit card under a fictitious name and used it to purchase PC equipment and other items. As Japan has no laws to control espionage or covert operations, investigative authorities have to find another allegation that constitutes a crime.
The ROK has the National Security Law that entitles investigative authorities to crack down on covert operations. In fact, a South Korean agent who had received instructions from Pak was convicted for violation of the law.
Until the public security bureau’s investigation discovered another fraud charge against Pak in June last year, he was deputy chairman of the university’s faculty of business administration.
Pak seems to have delivered instructions from North Korea to agents in South Korea with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) or Korea University as his base in Japan, where there are loopholes in the law that spies and agents exploit to conduct activities.
Pak reportedly communicated with agents through encrypted e-mails and made several dozen trips to the DPRK to report on results of his activities.
In 1985, Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers submitted a bill for “an anti-espionage law” to the Diet; however, it was scrapped because in the face of strong opposition from other parties. In 2013, “the Specific Secrets Protection Law” was passed, but the law was not designed to prevent espionage activities. The administration should swiftly prepare a legal framework including “the crime of conspiracy.”
Japan imposed its own sanctions on North Korea such as ban on the entry into Japan by individuals registered as North Korean and on reentry of North Korean residents to Japan. But based on the Stockholm agreement, Tokyo lifted the sanctions in July 2014 in response to the establishment of North Korea’s investigative commission on Japanese abductees.
The government is mulling the imposition of new sanctions following North Korea’s nuclear test; however, it would be reasonable to reinstate the previous sanctions first because the DPRK has made no progress in the abduction issue.