Moscow and Toyko Announce Expulsions
MOSCOW (AP) _ The Soviets said Thursday they were expelling a Japanese diplomat and a businessman for alleged espionage, and Toyko ordered out a Soviet for refusing to answer questions about the purchase of stolen documents.
It was the first Soviet expulsion of a Japanese diplomat since World War II and appeared to signal a sharp escalation in a dispute over Tokyo’s allegations that Soviet officials in Japan illegally bought classified American documents.
In announcing the expulsions, the Soviet Union criticized Japan for launching and intensifying a ″propaganda campaign hostile to this country.″ Japanese officials warned that the expulsions would deeply damage Soviet- Japanese relations.
The Soviets accused Japanese diplomat Nobuhiro Takeshima of espionage during a visit to a Black Sea holiday resort, while Tokyo said the Soviet official, Yuri G. Pokrovsky, may have handed over nearly $69,000 for stolen documents during clandestine meetings on railway platforms.
Soji Takao Otani was the Japanese businessman expelled.
Relations between the two countries plummeted this summer when the U.S. Senate voted to ban for two years the import of products built by Japan’s Toshiba Corp. because of allegations that a Toshiba subsidiary illegally sold Moscow equipment which helped the Soviets build harder-to-detect submarines.
Two Toshiba machine executives were arrested and both the president and the chairman of Toshiba resigned because of the illegal sales.
In a separate case, Japan recently stepped up efforts to question Soviets suspected of involvement in a spy ring that bought or stole U.S. and Japanese defense and technological secrets, including U.S. data on a new Boeing E3C Hawkeye fighter jet.
Three Soviets sought for questioning were recalled abruptly from Tokyo this year rather than face interrogation, according to a Japanese official in Moscow who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The Soviet ordered expelled Thursday was summoned on July 20 for police questioning in connection with the case but refused to respond, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
Pokrovsky, a Soviet vice trade representative in Tokyo, was wanted for questioning about purported Soviet purchases of information stolen from an aircraft instrument maker, the ministry said.
Japanese officials indicated that Pokrovsky bought the stolen documents for $68,900 during secret meetings on railway platforms and in restaurants with a top official in the Tokyo Aircraft Instrument Co.
The Foreign Ministry stressed the decision to expel the Soviet was not made in retaliation for Moscow’s ordered ousters. But Tokyo’s announcement followed quickly the Soviet statement accusing three Japanese of illegal activities.
Gennady I. Gerasimov, the chief Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters that Japanese defense attache Tomohiro Okamoto and naval attache Takeshima ″were involved in espionage activity″ while visiting the Soviet port city of Odessa on the Black Sea on July 29.
Otani tried to obtain commercial secrets from the Soviet Foreign Trade Ministry, engaged in illegal speculation and violated Soviet travel restricitions, Gerasimov said. He said Otani was the deputy chief of the Moscow office of the Mitsubishi Manufacturing Corp., a major Japanese trading house.
Gerasimov said Takeshima and Otani were ordered out of the country. He did not say why Okamoto was not expelled.
In Tokyo, the Foreign Ministry dismissed as ″groundless″ Moscow’s charges that the three engaged in espionage or tried to obtain commercial secrets.