Officials - China detained missing Japanese activist

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

TOKYO -- Chinese authorities have detained a Japanese activist who helped establish an organization that assists North Korean refugees, Japan's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Hiroshi Kato, who had been missing for six days, was detained along with his interpreter for allegedly violating Chinese immigration laws, said Foreign Ministry official Naoko Murasaki.

She said Kato, a co-founder of Tokyo-based Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, was to be expelled from China on Wednesday.

Public TV broadcaster NHK said Kato was accused of planning and helping carry out the asylum bids of North Koreans who took refuge in foreign embassies in Beijing.

Kato -- who was in China providing food, medicine and clothes to refugees -- disappeared on Oct. 30 after checking out of his hotel in Dalian.

, in northeastern China. He was accompanied by Mizuta and a North Korean refugee who had sought his help, said Kotaro Miura, spokesman for Life Funds for North Korean Refugees.

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