Assemblyman Takuma Sakuragi, 70, of Aichi Prefecture, is being detained in China after he was found at Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou carrying three kilograms of illegal stimulant drugs in his suitcase.
The Japanese politician reportedly left for China on Oct. 29 for a business trip, and was taken into custody by Chinese authorities on Oct. 31 at the airport, according to the international press.
The drugs found in Sakuragi’s suitcase were not named. They were found during a customs check on his way back to Japan.
“At present, the local authorities are going through legal procedures to put him on trial,” a Japanese official told to the Chinese media, while Sakuragi has denied the charges.
China has strong rules against drug carrying, carrying out harsh sentences for drug smugglers. According to the country’s laws, possession of 50 grams or more of so-called stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine can draw the death penalty. In 2010, four Japanese citizens were executed in China on drug smuggling charges.
Sakuragi may have been framed due to his hard-line stance on diplomacy with neighbors China and South Korea. Tokyo has separate territorial conflicts both with Beijing and Seoul, which accuse Japan of failing to atone for its military aggression during the first half of the 20th century.
“There might be some political angle to this case,” the suspect’s associate Kenji Sasaki said, according to the media.