Nine Japanese companies, including drugmakers, have received blackmail letters containing a mysterious white powder. Police say perpetrators have warned they'll produce fake medicine if their demands aren't met.
Several Japanese companies, including a newspaper publisher and several pharmaceutical firms, have been sent extortion letters that contained suspected cyanide and demands for money, police said on Sunday.
Suspicious envelopes arrived at the seven drugmakers and the Tokyo headquarters of The Mainichi Newspapers on Friday. The Hokkaido branch of a famous Japanese food company was also targeted.
The letters were sent under the names of executed members of Aum Shinrikyo — the Japanese doomsday cult behind the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, as well as local gangsters.
Laced drugs threat
They threatened the use of potassium cyanide to create fake drugs that they said would then be distributed publicly.
The notes contained a white powder, which the Asahi Shimbun newspaper later reported was confirmed to be cyanide.
The message demanded the victims send 35 million won (€27,000, $31,000) in bitcoins by February 22, warning that a tragedy would occur otherwise.
The police are investigating the case as attempted blackmail, The Japan Times reported. None of the affected companies were identified.
Several pharmaceutical companies were targeted by a similar incident involving threatening letters last year.