Police referred two men and a high school student to prosecutors Tuesday over their alleged involvement in online trading of uranium, in violation of Japanese law regulating nuclear materials. A 24-year-old man of Azumino, Nagano Prefecture, is suspected of posting for sale small amounts of depleted uranium and natural uranium in glass tubes on a Yahoo online auction website. The 17-year-old high school boy of Koganei, Tokyo, and a 61-year-old pharmacist of Koga, Ibaraki Prefecture, were allegedly purchasers of the chemicals, police said. Japan's laws on nuclear materials ban people other than approved businesses and organizations from trading in nuclear fuel materials such as depleted uranium. According to investigative sources, the man who sold uranium told the police that he had bought it through an overseas website.
A former SoftBank Corp. employee was arrested Saturday for allegedly passing proprietary information from the major phone carrier to officials at Russia's trade representative office in Tokyo. The Metropolitan Police Department's Public Safety Bureau said it suspects the Russian officials were engaging in espionage. Yutaka Araki, 48, is suspected of illegally accessing a computer server at SoftBank on Feb. 18 last year and obtaining two sets of trade secrets with which he had been involved, the police said. Araki could have provided numerous corporate secrets repeatedly to the Russian officials, according to the police. Araki, a resident of Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, has admitted to stealing the information, according to the police, who quoted him as saying he did it to earn a "little extra money."
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday pledged to step up talks with Russia to conclude a postwar peace treaty, among other major diplomatic challenges this year. "Japan will draw the global spotlight as we will welcome top world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, as host of the Group of 20 summit" in Osaka in June. Tokyo and Moscow have yet to sign a peace treaty to formally end wartime hostilities due to a dispute over four islands off Hokkaido that are controlled by Russia and claimed by Japan. The islands were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Abe and Putin agreed in November to accelerate talks based on a 1956 joint statement, in which Moscow agreed to hand over the two smaller islands to Tokyo after a peace pact is concluded.
More than 500 people in Tokyo and about 200 in Fukushima Prefecture have begun legal action against the government, arguing that the security laws ushered in by the Abe administration violate the Constitution. One of the lawsuits filed Tuesday with the Tokyo District Court seeks to block the deployment of Self-Defense Forces personnel under the laws, while the other calls for 100,000 in damages for each of the plaintiffs. The suits are the first of several planned nationwide by a group of legal experts and others against the legislation expanding the SDF's role overseas, which came into force last month after being enacted in the Diet last September. Also Tuesday, a roughly 200-strong group sought compensation over the security laws at the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court. The legislation, allowing Japan to use force to defend the United States and other allies if they came under attack, even if Japan itself is not attacked, followed the Abe Cabinet's reinterpretation of the Constitution in July 2014 as allowing the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
SAITAMA – A government official involved in work to look after isolated returnees from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan at a lodging facility near Tokyo was found dead Saturday in what police say is a possible suicide. The 37-year-old man, who was dispatched from the Metropolitan Police Department to the Cabinet Secretariat, was found collapsed around 10 a.m. Authorities suspect he may have jumped off the building, but a suicide note has not been found. The institute is one of the locations where those who have recently returned from Wuhan are staying for about two weeks to prevent the potential spread of the pneumonia-causing virus.