May 12, 2006

Japan police search N.Korean ship for drugs: Kyodo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Police searched a North Korean freighter
at a port in western Japan on Friday in connection with the
arrest of at least two men on suspicion of smuggling
amphetamines, Kyodo news agency said.

Japan has been locked in a bitter dispute with North Korea
over its abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago to help
train spies, and the row has led to calls in Japan for
sanctions against North Korea.

The North Korean cargo ship searched by police had entered
the port in Tottori prefecture on Friday, Kyodo said.

The search followed the arrest on Friday of a South Korean
national, Woo Si-yun, 59, on suspicion of smuggling illegal
stimulants into Japan in October 2002, Kyodo said.

Woo is believed to be the owner of a mobile phone recovered
from a North Korean spy ship that sank in the East China Sea in
2001 after an exchange of fire with Japan Coast Guard patrol
vessels, Kyodo said.

A Japanese man was also arrested in connection with the
case on Friday, and he and Woo are suspected of smuggling
several hundred kilograms of amphetamines in 2002, Kyodo said.

Both men have denied the allegations, it said.

A police spokesman could not confirm the report.