Firm tied to past Myanmar exports / N. Korea-affiliated Toko Boeki may have illegally shipped missile devices
The Yomiuri Shimbun
YOKOHAMA–A trading company affiliated with North Korea, whose president was arrested Monday on suspicion of attempting to illegally export to Myanmar a device required for long-range ballistic missile systems, may have illegally exported dual-use devices on several previous occasions, police said.
The Kanagawa prefectural police have arrested Lee Kyoung Ho, president of Tokyo-based Toko Boeki, and two others on suspicion of attempting to illegally export a magnetic measuring device to Myanmar on instructions from North Korea, an act that violates the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law.
In addition to the magnetic device, the prefectural police plan to prosecute Lee, 41, on suspicion of illegally exporting other devices from Japan to Myanmar.
The prefectural police believe North Korea’s attempt to transfer missile technology to Myanmar has had some success.
According to the police, Toko Boeki began exporting to Myanmar about a year before the country resumed diplomatic ties with North Korea in April 2007.
After studying customs declaration documents submitted by Toko Boeki, the prefectural police confirmed that Japanese devices including external cylindrical grinders and LCR meters had been exported to Myanmar.
According to sources, an external cylindrical grinder is essential for producing a gyroscope, a device integral for controlling the trajectory of missiles. LCR meters, meanwhile, are used to measure radio waves and electricity. Both devices are included on the so-called Catch-all Control restricted list prohibiting exports of products that could be used for weapons of mass destruction.
The prefectural police believe Toko Boeki may have exported the devices to Myanmar without obtaining Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry approval.
The prefectural police have analyzed material seized during a search of Toko Boeki in February and discovered that the company was instructed by the Beijing office of New East International Trading Ltd., a company under the umbrella of the Workers’ Party of Korea, to send the devices to Myanmar.
The economy ministry has put New East International’s Pyongyang office on the list of companies that might use exported items and technologies in developing weapons of mass destruction, as it is concerned the office is involved in developing such weapons. The company’s head office is located in Hong Kong.
Lee is a member of the Korean Youth Commerce Community, under the umbrella of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. After graduating from university, he worked at a trading company before establishing Toko Boeki in 1998.
According to a private credit research company, Toko Boeki recorded sales of 150 million yen in the year ending in January 2008.
The company was said to be trading mainly food products to North Korea, South Korea and China.
The company was located at a multitenant building in Shinjuku Ward, but the office closed on June 25 and its signs were removed.