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N. Korea releases a Japanese tourist in half a month

Posted August. 28, 2018 08:18,   

Updated August. 28, 2018 08:18


North Korea has set a Japanese tourist detainee free, citing "humanitarian principles," which prompts Japanese government to figure out the North’s intentions behind the decision. Kyodo News reported from Beijing that the Japanese tourist arrived in China on Monday. It was said that the Japanese government was working to comprehend the circumstances about the detention, with a medical check on the Japanese detainee.

The Japanese government presumes that the tourist released from North Korea is Tomoyuki Sugimoto. It has been speculated that that the man, in his 30s, visited the North by train early this month, as part of a group tour program run by a Chinese travel agency, and later was arrested in the western port city of Nampo, for recording a video clip of a military facility.

It is assumed that he was detained around Aug. 10 by the North, and this early release is an unprecedented case. In 1999, a Nikkei journalist was detained for espionage allegations. It was as long as two years later when he was set free. In another case, it took five years and three months for a Japanese man to be released from the North after he was detained for drug trafficking. All these considered, the Japanese government is focusing on any possibility that the North’s decision implies a message toward Japan.

Young-A Soh sya@donga.com