Japanese man detained in China freed
Tokyo: A Japanese man detained by Beijing reportedly on allegations of spying has been released and returned to the country, government officials in Tokyo said on Friday.
Tokyo confirmed last month that a Japanese man in his 40s had been held by Chinese authorities since September on suspicion of violating Chinese laws, without providing details.
Japanese media have identified him as a professor from Hokkaido University who was detained on suspicion of spying.
"We confirmed his return... I'm glad he is back to Japan safely," Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters without disclosing the details of the charges.
"This is a case that Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe and I strongly pressed on China and this has borne fruit." Late last month, Abe strongly demanded "a positive response from China regarding the detention of a Japanese national" when he met China's vice president Wang Qishan.
The man, who has not been named, previously worked for the National Institute for Defense Studies in the defence ministry and the Japanese foreign ministry, according to local media reports.
Beijing has faced accusations of using the detention of foreigners as a political tool, with observers calling it "hostage diplomacy".
In 2017, China detained six Japanese citizens for alleged "illegal activities".
Since 2015, at least 13 Japanese citizens -- all civilians -- have been detained in China on various charges including espionage, according to local Japanese media.
Tokyo's ties with Beijing have been at times strained by rows over history and territorial disputes but have improved recently, with President Xi Jinping expected to visit Japan early next year.