TOKYO -- The spies used "Don Quixote" to decode messages from their headquarters in North Korea. They slipped ashore on made-in-Japan life rafts and used Japanese cell phones for their contacts. When they went home after a mission, they hauled bags of pens, shirts and sweaters as gifts.
These and other glimpses of the espionage carried out by North Korean agents in Japan starting in the 1970s are emerging as their spy activities here are flushed into the open.
The clues are coming from interviews conducted this month by Japanese officials in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, with five people who were kidnapped from Japan; from old cases now being reexamined; and from evidence found in a sunken North Korean spy ship that Japan recently raised.
The emerging picture, though far from complete, is one of a long-term infiltration project in which dozens -- perhaps several hundred -- North Korean...