Consul Meets Astellas Employee Detained in China

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
China’s national flag

BEIJING (Jiji Press) — A Japanese consul had a meeting on Tuesday with a Japanese employee of drugmaker Astellas Pharma Inc., who is in detention in China, according to diplomatic sources.

The Astellas employee is said to have told the consul that he has no particular health problem.

The government plans to continue to support the man while urging China to release him soon.

It is not known whether the consular meeting was realized thanks to Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, on Sunday.

At the meeting with Qin in China, Hayashi demanded that a Japanese consul be allowed to meet with the Astellas employee, as well as that the detained man be freed soon.

Qin replied that China would handle the matter in accordance with its laws.

The Astellas employee, in his 50s, was detained by Chinese authorities in March.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning has said that a criminal enforcement action was taken against the Japanese man on espionage allegations, but has not provided details of the allegations.

China put into force an anti-espionage law in 2014, and 17 Japanese nationals have so far been detained under the law.

The law is expected to be revised shortly to broaden the definition of spying activities. Among Japanese business people, there are growing concerns about staying in China.