Japanese man returns home after 6 years in Chinese jail on spying charges

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The flag of China flies in Beijing.

BEIJING — A Japanese man arrested in China on charges of spying has finished his six-year prison sentence and returned to Japan on Tuesday.

Eiji Suzuki, a former head of the Japan-China youth exchange association, had been involved in bilateral exchanges since the early 1980s.

He was arrested in 2016 on charges that he was involved in espionage.

“The ruling was completely unfounded,” Suzuki told The Yomiuri Shimbun in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The 65-year-old said he thinks he was detained “on the basis of the deterioration in relations between Japan and China.”

He expressed concerns over how developments in Japan-China relations, coupled with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on social stability, could lead to the detention of more people.

While stressing that Japan-China relations were important, he said, “We need to think of China as a ‘dangerous country’ when dealing with it.”

Suzuki said he would continue to share his experiences and speak up about China’s human rights issues.