August 24, 2012 11:48
North Korean spies in Japan had been watching late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's former sushi chef since 2010, the Sankei Shimbun reported Thursday.
Kenji Fujimoto (not his real name), who has made a second career telling tales out of school about North Korea, recently made a surprise visit to Pyongyang and met new leader Kim Jong-un.
According to the daily, Japanese police have discovered records of Fujimoto's remarks and living conditions that were apparently reported back to North Korea in the computer of the Korean-Japanese owner of a transport company who was arrested for fraud.
Police said the man had been a North Korean agent since 2006 and was ordered by the North to spy on Fujimoto after Kim Jong-un was chosen in 2009 to succeed his father. The man had been watching Fujimoto since 2010.
"It looks like Fujimoto was invited back to Pyongyang, since he did not form close ties with Japanese and South Korean intelligence agencies and was deemed loyal to North Korea," the paper reported.
Fujimoto appeared on Japan's TBS on Thursday and said he decided to go to North Korea after receiving a message from the North Korean leader through a Korean Japanese he had known in Pyongyang. On June 16, Fujimoto received a letter from his North Korean wife saying she missed him, as well as a letter from the North Korean state security agency guaranteeing his safety during his visit to Pyongyang.
On July 18, the former chef received a letter from Kim himself urging him to "live up to the promise made 10 years ago." That promise dates back to 2001 when Fujimoto headed to Japan to purchase ingredients for his cooking. At the time, Kim Jong-un asked Fujimoto whether he would return, and Fujimoto said he replied, "Of course I will come back."
Fujimoto said the North Korean leader threw a lavish banquet to welcome him back to Pyongyang, where he also met his wife Ri Sol-ju and his uncle Jang Song-taek, the eminence grise behind the North Korean throne, as well as Kim Jong-il's widow Kim Ok along with some other 17 regime officials.
Kim told Fujimoto that it was fine for him to travel back and forth between North Korea and Japan from now on, and he plans to return to Pyongyang next month.
TBS reported that Kim made these concessions to show how liberal he is and to create a warm atmosphere between Pyongyang and Tokyo as the two sides mark the 10th anniversary of a bilateral declaration signed by Kim Jong-il and Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2002 pledging to normalize diplomatic relations in the near future.
Fujimoto worked as Kim Jong-il's sushi chef from 1989 but fled in 2001 after being accused of spying, leaving behind his North Korean wife and child.
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