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International relations

China detains Japanese professor for alleged spying

Man was once employed by Japan's foreign and defense ministries

China has detained 13 Japanese nationals since 2015.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- A professor at Japan's Hokkaido University was detained by Chinese authorities during his trip to Beijing in September, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

The unidentified Japanese national, who is in his 40s, had formerly been employed by Japan's Foreign Ministry as well as the Defense Ministry's National Institute for Defense Studies, and now specializes in modern Chinese history. He is believed to be accused of espionage.

This is the first time China has detained faculty of a Japanese national university, who are essentially treated as civil servants under Japanese law. He is still in Chinese custody.

China has been cracking down against foreign intelligence-gathering within its borders, passing an anti-espionage law in 2014 and a national security law in 2015. Thirteen Japanese nationals have been detained since 2015, nine of whom have been charged.

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