UPDATES WITH CHINESE STATEMENT; CHANGES HEADER, DECK
By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – Japan on Monday urged China to release its national who, Beijing says, was “held on suspicion of spying.”
“The Japanese national has been captured by Chinese authorities,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference in Tokyo.
Beijing said it notified the Japanese Embassy about the arrest “in accordance with the Vienna Convention and China-Japan consular relations.”
Earlier this month, Chinese authorities notified the Japanese Embassy in Beijing that a Japanese national in his 50s was detained.
He is a pharmaceutical employee and “seems to have violated the spy act,” Matsuno said.
“We urge China to release this man … we need to protect this Japanese national,” he added.
Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing: “China is a country ruled by law and all foreigners in China must abide by Chinese laws and violators will be held accountable.”
“There have been several similar cases involving Japanese citizens and Japan should strengthen education and control on its nationals,” Chinese daily Global Times quoted Mao.
The top Japanese government spokesman said Tokyo has asked for a meeting with the detained national through its Consul General.
Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma Inc. has said the man “is one of its employees.”
Sources told Tokyo-based Kyodo News: “The man was held by Chinese authorities just before his planned return to Japan this month. He may be facing spying allegations.”
“Since 2015, at least 16 Japanese nationals, excluding the latest case of the Astellas employee, have been detained in China for alleged involvement in espionage activities,” it added.
Several cases of espionage have been reported by Beijing after China introduced a counter-espionage law in 2014 and a national security law in 2015.