A former SoftBank Corp. employee was arrested Saturday for allegedly taking proprietary information from the major Japanese phone carrier, with police believing he provided it to officials at Russia's trade representation in Tokyo.
Yutaka Araki, 48, is suspected of obtaining the information from a computer server at SoftBank on Feb. 18 last year, in violation of Japan's unfair competition prevention law, the Tokyo police said.
The police's public safety bureau suspects the Russian officials at the trade mission were engaging in spy activities.
Through the Foreign Ministry, the police requested that the Russian Embassy present two officials, one in his 50s and the other in his 40s who returned to Russia in 2017.
SoftBank, a unit of SoftBank Group Corp., said the information was related to manuals for mobile phone base stations and other communications facilities, adding it fired Araki in mid-December.
The police believe the Russian official who used to work in Tokyo first contacted Araki before passing on his connection to the Japanese to the official currently working at the trade mission, who has diplomatic status.
Araki could have provided numerous corporate secrets repeatedly to the Russian officials, according to the police.
The embassy put out a statement on its Facebook page saying that Russia "regrets Japan has joined anti-Russian speculation trendy in the West on the hackneyed topic of spy mania."
It said the spy allegation contradicts the policy agreed on by Moscow and Tokyo to create a positive atmosphere for bilateral cooperation.
Araki, a resident of Urayasu, near Tokyo, has admitted to stealing the information, according to the police, who quoted him as saying he did it to earn a "little extra money."
According to investigative sources, Araki received hundreds of thousands of yen for providing the information kept in data storage devices to the Russian side.
SoftBank in a statement said he stole "task documentation" that was "low in confidentiality" which did not include information such as on customers or its business partners.
The Tokyo-based company said it has been fully cooperating with the investigation.
© Kyodo News International, Inc., source Newswire