Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Philippines may send 2 robbery suspects to Japan early next week

Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla meets the press in Manila on Feb. 2, 2023, in connection with the deportation of four Japanese nationals, currently in detention in the Philippine capital, believed to be behind a string of robberies across Japan. (Kyodo)

MANILA (Kyodo) -- The Philippines may repatriate Japanese detainees believed to be involved in a string of robberies across Japan as early as next week, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Friday.

    The Justice Department said two of the four men have been cleared of local charges and are now ready to be deported. Remulla identified one of the two as Toshiya Fujita.

    Japan has sought the transfer of all four Japanese suspects currently detained at an immigration facility in Manila after police obtained arrest warrants on suspicion of theft in connection with a scam targeting elderly people in the country.

    The other suspect set for deportation is likely to be Kiyoto Imamura, as Remulla previously said a local case against him was dropped last month.

    The Philippines has said it cannot deport individuals on trial, but Remulla believed the local charges against the four suspects had been made up so they could avoid deportation.

    "If we cannot deport them at the same time, we will deport them two by two," Remulla said. Japanese authorities want the four to be returned at the same time.

    Remulla also said each of the remaining two suspects still has one local charge pending in a Manila court.

    Justice Department spokesperson Mico Clavano said government agencies will meet Monday to decide on the day of the deportation, as they also expect Japanese law enforcement personnel to arrive soon.

    Clavano said the Philippine government still hopes to deport all four at the same time, referring to this as "plan A."

    Manila is proceeding with arrangements for their handover ahead of a visit by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Japan beginning Wednesday.

    The Philippines is also set to turn over confiscated mobile phones to the Japanese authorities as they were possibly used by the suspects to remotely coordinate the robberies from the immigration facility through an encrypted messaging app.

    Also Friday, the court handling the local cases of suspects Yuki Watanabe and Tomonobu Kojima granted prosecutors their motion for an early resolution and moved up their hearing by one day to Monday. The prosecutors are seeking to have the court dismiss their charges.

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media