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Japanese security agencies mull crackdown on DPRK agents in Japan

  • June 1, 2017
  • , p. 12 - 13
  • JMH Translation

Japanese security agencies including the National Police Agency (NPA) may conduct raids on North Korean operatives who have infiltrated major government and the private sector organizations in Japan. This is because authorities have detected indications that the Kim Jong Un regime has directed them to conduct subversive activities against nuclear plants and the Shinkansen railways in Japan.


At Japan-U.S. summit meetings the Trump administration has urged Japan to beef up counterterrorism measures. In order to prove that Japan is an effective ally of the U.S., Tokyo can no longer leave North Korean operatives unchecked, according to an NPA official. Without anti-espionage laws, Japan has not been able to take effective measures against those operatives. However, the bill for the revised Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds is expected to pass. The bill incorporates provisions that will be as effective as an anti-espionage law. The revised law, if it comes into force, will enable authorities to crack down on North Korean operatives.


The bill that criminalizes acts of preparation to commit terrorism passed the House of Representatives on May 23 and was sent to the House of Councillors. Japanese security agencies including the NPA have longed for such a law as a counterterrorism measure, but opposition parties including the Democratic Party and others are trying to scrap the bill by stoking opposition to it among the public.


In May, the Japanese government obtained via a diplomatic channel information on possible subversive activities by North Korea. A Chinese official in charge of devising political schemes for the United Front, which is under the Chinese Communist Party, told an official connected to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing that the North Korean regime, realizing it can’t win a war against the U.S. and its allies, has instructed its operatives in Japan to conduct subversive activities so as to discourage adversaries from attacking the DPRK.


There are reportedly more than 20,000 undercover operatives who have adopted Japanese identities and work for government organizations and leading companies.


Japanese security agencies receive from their American counterparts intelligence on North Korean terrorist operatives. However, it is impossible to arrest those operatives under the current legal framework that doesn’t include an anti-espionage law.


Investigations conducted by the public security division of the Metropolitan Police Department indicate that North Korean operatives are actively preparing terrorist strikes, including bombing Shinkansen railways, subversive activities against nuclear power plants, and sarin gas attacks against U.S. military bases.


Around the time of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Japan in April, a CIA agent who was traveling undercover with a group of U.S. economic and defense officials reportedly came to Japan for talks with a Japanese counterpart who leads a working-level security unit. They discussed how to prevent North Korean terrorist attacks against Japan, according to a source.


In the U.S., security agencies under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security are enhancing monitoring of not only terrorists in the Middle East but also North Korean terrorists. “In anticipation of the passage of a bill that criminalizes acts of preparation to commit terrorism, the U.S. is increasingly urging Japan to play a greater role in counterterrorism,” said a Washington-based Japanese correspondent. “The passage of the bill is the Abe administration’s top priority because it would like Japan to be able to work together with the U.S. in counterterrorism.”


On the other hand, the North Korean view is that the “Japanese people have become complacent about peace and the Japanese media is hostile to the DPRK government,” according to Rodong Shinmun, the DPRK’s official newspaper. “Under the circumstances, a terrorist attack would panic the Japanese public, and might change their stance from one of hostility to accommodation,” the paper says.


“In fact, there have been incidents and power outages at nuclear plants of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Kansai Electric Power Co., which were suspected to be North Korean acts of terrorism,” said a source connected to Japanese security agencies.  The electric power companies ended up treating them as accidents. The source added: “North Korea has already rehearsed terrorist attacks to see the response of the Japanese government and law enforcement organizations.”


It is suspected that North Korean agents who have already infiltrated the Japanese government are providing a significant amount of information to the DPRK.


Although attention is being paid mostly to North Korea’s missile launches, a Japanese security agency official warns, “Terrorist attacks by North Korean sleepers pose a more serious threat.”


Besides members of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, there are North Korean criminal elements who illegally enter Japan. In addition, students at Korean schools in Japan, which receive grants from the Japanese government, are being trained to become agents through an anti-Japanese education. (Abridged)

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