China has accused a Japanese national, who is said to be an employee of drug maker Astellas Pharma, of espionage, while Japan has called on China to release one of its citizens who was detained in Beijing this month and allow consular officials to meet with him.
This Japanese citizen is suspected of engaging in espionage activities, in violation of the criminal law and the anti-espionage law of the People’s Republic of China,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a press briefing on Monday.
The detention of the Japanese national comes amid a period of strained relations between China and Japan over territorial disputes and other issues. Japan has protested the detention and urged China to release the individual.
China has become increasingly assertive in its claims to disputed territories and has detained several foreign nationals, including Japanese citizens, on charges of espionage or other crimes related to national security. Beijing has not provided any evidence to support its accusations in these cases, which have been seen as part of a broader crackdown on dissent and foreign influence.
The Japanese government is in contact with people related to the detained individual, who is in his 50s, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. Matsuno did not provide any further details about the man, but a source familiar with the matter has said that he was held by Chinese authorities just before his planned return to Japan this month and may be facing spying allegations.
The tension between China and Japan over territorial disputes in the East China Sea has been ongoing for many years, with both countries claiming the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.