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Japanese politician arrested in Guangzhou on drugs charges

Posted: 11/15/2013 10:21 pm

A 70-year-old local Japanese councillor has been arrested at Guangzhou’s Baiyun Airport on drugs charges, Channel News Asia reports.

Takuma Sakuragi was carrying three kilos of what are suspected to be illegal stimulants, Japanese officials said, citing Chinese authorities.

The website has more:

On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed that Sakuragi was detained on October 31 at Baiyun airport “for carrying drugs with him”.

“He is now being detained in the detention centre of Guangdong province,” Hong added.

Officials in the central Japanese city of Inazawa said Sakuragi is city councillor who was in China for his private trading business.

A council spokesman said Sakuragi has denied the charges.

The case comes after four Japanese nationals were executed in China in 2010 for carrying illegal drugs.

Possession of 50 or more grammes of so-called stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine can draw the death penalty in China, which is known for its harsh drug laws.

The suspect’s associate Kenji Sasaki told Japanese media that there may be a political angle to this as Sakuragi is known to have a hardline stance on diplomatic relations with China and South Korea.

This week, former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi gave the current prime minister Shinzo Abe a thumbs-up on his approach to diplomacy with China.

Wall Street Journal has the story:

“Since I stepped down, not a single prime minister has visited the Yasukuni Shrine,” Mr. Koizumi said, in reference to the shrine where Japan’s war dead—-including convicted Japanese war criminals—-are worshipped. “Has that improved China-Japan relations? Has that allowed for summit meetings?”

During his 2001-2006 premiership, Mr. Koizumi visited Yasukuni every year, angering China and South Korea who see such pilgrimages as a grave offense to the suffering of their people under Japan’s wartime colonial rule. But that didn’t stop Japan and China from holding periodic summit meetings.

A large delegation of senior ministers did however visit the Yasukuni shrine earlier this year, angering both China and Korea.

The suggestion that there is a political angle to this spells more bad news for diplomatic relations.

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