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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japan Says Russian Bought Secrets

APA car entering the compound of Russia's trade representative in Tokyo on Thursday.
TOKYO -- A Russian trade official has been accused of buying company secrets -- reportedly with military applications -- from a worker at a subsidiary of Japanese electronics maker Toshiba, police and a company official said Thursday.

Police sent the case on Thursday to public prosecutors for the start of the criminal investigation, according to an official of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

The police official identified the two as a 35-year-old Russian man working for the Trade Representative of the Russian Federation of Japan, and a 30-year-old Japanese man.

The Russian, who arrived in Japan in October 2003 and left in June, is thought to have links with Russia's foreign intelligence service, Kyodo News reported.

The Japanese man worked for Toshiba Discrete Semiconductor Technology Corp., and was dismissed last Friday for leaking corporate secrets, company spokesman Kenji Adachi said. He is suspected of selling secrets to the Russian nine times between September 2004 and May 2005 for a total of 1 million yen ($8,700), police said.

Kyodo said the man sold secrets related to a type of semiconductor technology that can be used in radars of military submarines, fighter aircraft or in missile guidance systems.

Adachi denied that report, saying the information leaked by the former employee was for semiconductors used in digital cameras, mobile phones and electric cookers, and had no conceivable military applications.

Kyodo also said the Russian posed as an Italian business consultant in his dealings with the Japanese man.

Adachi said he could give no further details on the case at this time, adding the Toshiba subsidiary was cooperating fully with police investigations.

It was the fifth case since 1989 Japanese police investigated cases of alleged espionage involving members of the Russian trade office, Kyodo said.

In 1991, a Russian trade official approached executives at a Japanese electronics firm to try to acquire semicondutor chips regulated under the now-defunct Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, or COCOM, a watchdog group formed by Western governments in 1949 to prevent the transfer of military-related technology to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The official was not charged, Kyodo said.

A different Russian trade official is also suspected of trying to obtain classified information on missile technology from a former member of Japan's Self-Defense Force in 2002, Kyodo said.

The Russian trade office refused to comment on the case.