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Philippines to deport remaining 2 robbery suspects to Japan on Wed.

Philippines Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla updates reporters on two Japanese suspects that were deported back to Japan at Manila's International Airport on Feb. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA (Kyodo) -- The Philippines is set to deport on Wednesday night the remaining two of four Japanese detainees believed to be involved in a string of robberies across Japan.

    Yuki Watanabe, 38, and Tomonobu Kojima, 45, will join Kiyoto Imamura and Toshiya Fujita, both 38, who were deported the previous day and arrested by Japanese police aboard a flight to Japan.

    The police have sought the handover of the four men since arrest warrants were issued on suspicion of theft in connection with a scam targeting elderly people in Japan.

    Besides those thefts, the four men are suspected of remotely coordinating the robberies via an encrypted messaging app while being held at an immigration detention facility in Manila.

    The person or persons thought to have used the pseudonyms "Luffy" and "Kim" when the crimes were allegedly committed are likely to be among them. One of the robberies in which their involvement is suspected resulted in the murder of a 90-year-old woman in Tokyo.

    The Philippines planned to resolve the repatriation issue before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. begins his five-day visit to Japan on Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

    The detainees' repatriation, however, hinged on courts dismissing local criminal cases against them. A regional trial court dismissed the charges against Watanabe and Kojima on Tuesday, clearing the way for the remaining suspects' deportation.

    Local authorities believe the criminal complaints lodged against the men, concerning alleged violence against women, were likely fabricated to prevent their deportation.

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