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N. Korea spies in Japan, reports say

Date Posted: 1999-04-02

North Korean spies entered Japan last week while the country's military and Maritime Safety Agency (MSA) patrol boats were trying to stop two fishing vessels, believed to be North Korean spy ships, from fleeing north into the Sea of Japan. MSA patrol boats first located the spy ships about 100 miles northwest of Tokyo. According to a Sankei Newspaper report, the spies entered via Japan's east coast and have infiltrated several prefectures. The spies are believed to be sabotage experts, trained in sabotaging railways, communications and bridges, the Sankei said. Quoting unnamed sources, the Sankei said North Korean spies have also been flown in to Japan, using fake passports to slip past Immigration officials. The government is yet to confirm the report.

Meanwhile, the government has denied accusations by North Korea that Japan faked the incident in which the two boats, disguised as local fishing boats, but without any fishing nets or lines onboard and "bristling" with antennas and electronic tracking equipment, were fired on by Japanese Self-Defense Agency naval boats and bombed by military aircraft. "The incident is in no way a fiction designed to pave the way for the passage of bills related to Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines," a Reuters report quoted government spokesman Hiromu Nonaka as saying.

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