Japan councillor denies drugs charges at China trial: Report

Japan councillor denies drugs charges at China trial: Report

BEIJING - A Japanese city politician denied Chinese drugs charges that could carry the death penalty as his trial began on Tuesday, reports said.

Takuma Sakuragi was arrested with more than three kilograms of "white crystals" in a suitcase at Guangzhou airport last October, the semi-official China News Service said, adding that the drugs seized by police contained methamphetamine.

"Sakuragi denied the charges in court," it added.

Officials in the central Japanese city of Inazawa have previously said Sakuragi, 70, is a city councillor who was in China for his private trading business.

He was handed a suitcase by two African associates in Guangzhou and was asked to give it to the wife of one of them in Tokyo, the Sina report said.

Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court did not respond to requests from AFP for comment. But a notice on its website said a "drug transportation" case was being heard Tuesday, without giving any further details.

The case - which is expected to end Wednesday - comes after China put to death another Japanese man for drugs offence last month, according to Tokyo's diplomats and media reports.

Four Japanese were executed in China in 2010 for carrying illegal drugs.

That was Beijing's first use of the death penalty against Japanese nationals since the two countries normalised ties in 1972.

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