Friday, February 17, 2006

Japan police make 'export raids'

Japan police make 'export raids'

Police in Japan have raided two firms on suspicion of illegally selling equipment to North Korea that could be used to make biological weapons.

The Tokyo companies are suspected of exporting freeze dryers which could cultivate germs used in such weapons.

The two unnamed companies were reported to have sent their exports to North Korea via Taiwan.

On Monday another company was raided on suspicion of exporting equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

The two companies targeted in Friday's raids allegedly shipped the dryers to North Korea in September 2002.

The companies are suspected of infringing the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law, under which exporters need to apply for a government licence before selling such items abroad, the Kyodo news agency reports.

Mitutoyo Corp, the company raided on Monday, is alleged to have sold precision measuring equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons to China and Thailand in 2001 and 2002 without permission.

Similar equipment produced by Mitutoyo was found in Libya, Kyodo news said.

In a third case, Yamaha was accused last month of illegally exporting to China remote-controlled helicopters that could be used for military purposes.

Story from BBC NEWS: