Japanese politician had 3.3 kg of drugs when detained in China

A local Japanese politician was carrying over 3.3 kilograms of narcotics when he was detained at an airport in southern China late last month, according to Chinese public security officials.

Takuma Sakuragi, 70, a member of the Inazawa municipal assembly in Aichi Prefecture, was taken into custody at Baiyun airport in Guangzhou on Oct. 31 while going through the baggage check.

He has told Japanese diplomats who met him at the detention house that he is innocent, sources close to the Inazawa municipal assembly said Saturday.

Sakuragi, who traveled to China on private business, had apparently received a suitcase containing shoe samples from a Nigerian, the sources said.

Chinese public security officials said Baiyun airport security personnel found over 3.3 kg of methamphetamine in Sakuragi's possession.

Sakuragi traveled to Guangzhou on Oct. 29 on business for a trading company that he owns. He apparently met the Nigerian in Guangzhou on business.

According to Chinese public security officials, Sakuragi was heading to Shanghai on a China Southern Airlines flight when he was detained.

Sources close to the Inazawa municipal assembly said the narcotics were found hidden in the shoes he was carrying.

Sakuragi, a fifth-term member of the Inazawa municipal assembly, told Japanese diplomats he has no plan to resign from the assembly, the sources said.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the maximum penalty for drug smuggling in China is the death penalty. In 2010, four Japanese were executed in China on drug possession charges.