Japanese Faces Spy Charges

TOKYO -- Japanese investigators plan to seek charges against an official at the nation's key intelligence unit for leaking classified information to a Russian diplomat, media reports said Wednesday.

Tokyo police suspect a 52-year-old official at the Cabinet Information Research Office divulged information on "Japanese political movements" to a Russian Embassy official in Tokyo, the Kyodo news agency said.

Tokyo police and prosecutors would not comment on the report.

The Russian Embassy in Japan, meanwhile, said it believed there were people in Japan who are discontent with progress in the development of Russian-Japanese relations who are looking to "cast a shadow" on Russia, an embassy spokesman said, Interfax reported.

Speaking of the stories in the media, the spokesman said: "We saw these reports. They cause our regret and perplexity."

"What is noteworthy is that, against the background of progressive development of Russian-Japanese relations benefiting both countries, some in Japan are apparently discontent with these positive processes and would like to cast a shadow on Russia, including the use of such information," he said, the news agency reported.

But former Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Kunadze disagreed.

"I don't think that this is someone's deliberate attempt to set the two countries at loggerheads," Kunadze said, Interfax reported. "This is a routine matter, which should not affect Russian-Japanese relations."

In 2000, a former Japanese naval officer was arrested for selling defense secrets to a Russian military attache in the nation's biggest spy scandal in 20 years.

In 1980, a military attache at the Soviet Embassy in Japan obtained copies of a military monthly bulletin and official telegrams related to the Foreign Ministry through a Japanese general.

A decades-old territorial dispute separates Japan and Russia and has prevented the sides from signing a peace treaty to put a formal end to World War II.