North Korea said Wednesday it has detained two Japanese businessmen and deported another for crimes involving drug trafficking and counterfeit money.
The three Japanese admitted the crimes they committed after entering the North's northeastern city of Rason in March, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. Rason is where the North operates its first economic zone for foreign investment.
The North Korean dispatch didn't say why the North expelled the third person.
"What they did is a very grave violation of the law of (North Korea) and international law, and they will, therefore, face proper legal actions," the dispatch said. It didn't elaborate.
The North identified the detained Japanese as Hidehiko Abe, representative managing director of Realise Co. Ltd. of Japan, and Takumi Hirooka, managing director of Sugita Industrial Co. Ltd. of Japan. The expelled Japanese is Masaki Furuya, former representative managing director of JP Dairin Co. Ltd., it said.
Calls to Tokyo's foreign ministry were not immediately answered Wednesday, a national holiday in Japan.
The news came three weeks after Pyongyang said it was holding an American man for committing an unspecified crime against the country _ the latest in a string of U.S. nationals detained in the communist country in recent years.