CHINA - The Guangzhou Intermediate People's Procuratorate confirmed on Wednesday that it is filing charges against a Japanese legislator for allegedly smuggling drugs.
A court date has yet to be determined for Takuma Sakuragi, 70, a member of the Inazawa municipal assembly in Aichi Prefecture, said a public prosecutor with the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Procuratorate.
The prosecutor did not reveal details about Sakuragi's case because judicial procedures are under way. The public hearing will likely be held at the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, according to local media reports.
Sakuragi was detained by police after more than 3 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine was found in his luggage during a baggage check at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in October.
Sakuragi was on his way back to Japan and was detained as he was preparing to board a flight to Shanghai.
Chinese officials informed Japan's consulate general in Guangzhou, in line with regulations and international practices, on Nov 1, according to a statement from the procuratorate.
The Guangzhou Baiyun District People's Procuratorate officially approved Sakuragi's arrest in December, the statement said.
Sakuragi denied after his arrest that he was trafficking in drugs, saying that he was bringing the luggage to Shanghai for a Nigerian friend, according to the statement.
Two more suspects in the case were detained on Nov 18 and 19. The procuratorate did not identify the two suspects or release any other details.
Sakuragi faces the death penalty if he's found guilty. Under Chinese laws, citizens and foreigners face death if they are caught with 50 grams or more of heroin or methamphetamine.
According to China Radio International, China executed a convicted Japanese drug trafficker in Dalian, Liaoning province, on July 26. The unidentified 50-year-old was the fifth Japanese person to be executed in China since the two countries normalized relations in 1972.
The CRI report said the man was found guilty of working with another Japanese man to transport drugs from Dalian to Japan. It did not say when the crime occurred or what drugs were being transported.