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China detains more Japanese nationals suspected of spying

Beijing has taken into custody a man and a woman, both being held for espionage.

By Elizabeth Shim
Japanese citizens march through Tokyo, to protest China's human rights violations. Beijing has arrested a total of four Japanese nationals in 2015, but at least two were involved in assisting North Korean refugees in China, where they are not protected by law. UPI Photo/Keizo Mori | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/a0ac6ef15e1bc197451d3a6eaf754b53/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Japanese citizens march through Tokyo, to protest China's human rights violations. Beijing has arrested a total of four Japanese nationals in 2015, but at least two were involved in assisting North Korean refugees in China, where they are not protected by law. UPI Photo/Keizo Mori | License Photo

TOKYO, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- China said it has recently detained two additional Japanese nationals suspected of espionage, after arresting two Japanese citizens in September on similar charges.

He Zhenliang, the press attaché at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, said Wednesday Beijing had taken into custody a man and a woman, and that the woman has been placed under "criminal detention," The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. Japan press reported the woman was a schoolteacher in her 50s, and was a naturalized citizen originally from China.

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The man was apprehended after allegedly trying to fraudulently open a bank account, and was suspected of assisting North Koreans in China, a group that Beijing does not recognize as refugees. According to He, the unidentified man had been under surveillance at his residence since late June, which sources said means he is being detained at a hotel or another location, most likely in Beijing.

The woman in custody has been placed under criminal detention and was detained in Shanghai in June.

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On Sept. 30, Beijing said it had detained two Japanese citizens, making the total number of Japanese in Chinese custody four, three days before an annual trilateral summit brings together Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Seoul.

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None of the Japanese detainees were identified, but in September sources said one of the first people arrested was a man involved in assisting North Korean defectors in the Chinese city of Dandong near the North Korea border. The man, who is of Korean and Japanese ancestry, was repatriated to North Korea in the 1960s with his family but later defected in the 1990s, and resettled in Japan in 2001.

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