Image credit: Edwin Lee.
China’s foreign ministry has confirmed the arrest of two Japanese men on suspicion of spying. The arrests took place in May and Japanese diplomats have allegedly been working tirelessly behind the scenes to try and free them.
According to Japan’s Asahi newspaper, the two men work in the private sector. One was arrested in the northeast province of Liaoning near the North Korean border, the other near a military facility in Zhejiang. China is attempting to ascertain whether or not the men were acting under orders from the Japanese government.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing that “relevant authorities” had arrested the two “in accordance with the law for engaging in espionage activities in China. “China has already notified the Japanese side of the relevant situation,” he added, without elaborating.
Reuters says that Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed that two Japanese had been in custody since May but declined to give any further details.
“Diplomats are taking all appropriate steps and providing all possible assistance,” he said, declining to give any details.
The North Korean border is certainly a suspicious place to be as far as the Chinese government is concerned. In the summer of 2014, a Canadian family who ran a coffee shop in Dandong near the China-DPRK border were arrested for stealing trade secrets.