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Japan Cops Probing Radioactive Mail

June 12, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Police were investigating reports Monday that envelopes containing small amounts of a radioactive powder were mailed to the prime minister’s residence and other government offices, a police official said Monday.

At least one of the envelopes, all dated June 6, contained an anonymous message warning that radioactive materials were being sent from Japan to North Korea, a police official said. One government official reported getting a letter containing a sand-like substance.

The letters contained quantities of radioactive material too small to be harmful, Kyodo News agency reported, citing unidentified police sources. The report said nine government offices received the mysterious mail.

A spokesman at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police confirmed on condition of anonymity that officials were investigating the reports, but refused to elaborate. The office of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori refused to comment.

The Education Ministry received an envelope containing the mysterious substance with a letter warning that ``radioactive substance is being sent to North Korea and police should investigate because it is dangerous,″ said Hajime Kajiwara of the Kojimachi police station near the ministry.

Kazunobu Asada, an Education Ministry spokesman, said the envelope contained ``a very small amount of a sand-like substance.″ Asada said the letter was addressed to the education minister and did not include the sender’s name.

Kyodo said the envelopes were mailed around June 6. An initial examination indicated the substance may be ground monazite, a mineral containing thorium, a nuclear fuel material, the report said. The envelopes were postmarked in Tokyo.

Similar envelopes were sent to the Home Affairs Ministry, the national police, defense and public security investigation agencies, as well as the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, and the National Public Safety Commission, Kyodo said.

Yoshinori Inoue, an official at the Home Affairs Ministry, said the ministry received a letter dated June 6 but did not accept it because the sender’s name was not on the envelope.

Also Monday, a package bomb exploded at a lawyers’ office in Tokyo, slightly injuring a woman’s right hand, police said, refusing the release further details. The office was located near major government offices in Tokyo.

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