Japanese company accused of trying to export drone engine to China
A Japanese machinery maker and its chairman were referred to prosecutors on Tuesday over an attempt to export engines that could be used for military drones to China, investigative sources said.
Products made by Tokyo-based Tonegawa Seiko Co. could have been delivered to a company that does business with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the sources said.
Photo shows the building of machine maker Tonegawa Seiko Co. in Tokyo on July 6, 2021. (Kyodo)
Since 2006, the company has exported around 11,000 servo motors, widely used for providing precise angular position control, to countries such as China and United Arab Emirates. The machine maker has made at least about 340 million yen ($ 3.07 million) in sales since 2014, according to the police investigation.
Haruo Bando, the 90-year-old president of the company, reportedly attempted to export engines in June last year, ignoring the request from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry two months earlier to apply for an export permit, the sources said.
The Commerce Ministry said the same day that it filed a criminal complaint against Tonegawa Seiko with the Tokyo police for his attempt to export 150 engines, worth around 5 million yen, without government permission. , in violation of the Law on Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade.
The company submitted a false report to Tokyo Customs stating that it had not been invited to submit the request. Tokyo police carried out a search of the home in December and made inquiries with the company on a voluntary basis.
âWe forgot to have received (the request). It is true that we broke the law,â Bando told Kyodo News.
The company could face a trade ban of up to three years, according to the Commerce Ministry.
The United Nations pointed out in a report published in January 2020 that engines manufactured by Tonegawa Seiko had been used in Iranian reconnaissance drones.
A servo motor made by the company was found in an Iranian drone that crashed in Afghanistan in October 2016, and 60 motors sent to Yemen were seized in the United Arab Emirates in November 2018, according to the UN report.
The 150 servo motors bound for China were likely to be used in unmanned aerial vehicles to spray pesticides, the sources said.