AFP: Japanese police said Friday they had arrested five executives of a major precision instrument maker on suspicion of illegally exporting devices that can be used in the construction of nuclear weapons. TOKYO, Aug 25, 2006 (AFP) – Japanese police said Friday they had arrested five executives of a major precision instrument maker on suspicion of illegally exporting devices that can be used in the construction of nuclear weapons.
Mitutoyo Corp allegedly exported two measuring devices to Malaysia in 2001 without a license, officials at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said.
The five arrested include Mitutoyo president Kazusaku Tezuka, vice chairman Norio Takatsuji and executive director Hideyo Chikugo.
One of the gauges is believed to have ended up in Libya and was found by inspectors from the UN nuclear agency after the former pariah state in 2003 renounced its program to build weapons of mass destruction.
Police suspect that Mitutoyo also illegally exported devices to Iran through an Iranian trading company with offices in Tokyo, the Kyodo news agency quoted unnamed police sources as saying.
Mitutoyo chairman Toshihide Numata apologized at a news conference for causing the trouble.
“I believe we have complied with the law,” he said. “But I am regretful to see what has happened.”
The company also said in a statement that it did not yet fully understood the charges against its employees.
Export of such devices requires authorization by the Japanese minister for economy and trade because of their potential application for military use.
Police raided Mitutoyo’s head office in Kawasaki, west of Tokyo Friday.
The head office and plants of Mitutoyo had already been searched in February over allegations that the company exported one three-dimensional (3D) gauge each to China and Thailand without Japanese government clearance.