Japanese woman given six-year jail term by Chinese court for spying

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Japanese woman given six-year jail term by Chinese court for spying

A Chinese court has sentenced a Japanese woman to six years in prison for spying, a source privy to bilateral relations said on Saturday.

The Shanghai Intermediate People’s Court, which handed down the ruling on Friday, also seized 50,000 yuan (US$7,273) in assets from the 57-year-old, who is of Chinese origin, according to the source.

The woman, an executive of a Tokyo-based Japanese language school, was detained in Shanghai in June 2015 on suspicion of engaging in espionage. She was indicted in July 2016.

The source, however, said the specifics of what she did remain unknown.

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China has been tightening its watch over foreign individuals and organisations, with arrests of foreign nationals increasing since a counter-espionage law came into force in 2014 and a new national security law took effect the following year.

The court in Shanghai has also decided to deport the woman after she serves the sentence, the source said.

In November, two Japanese men were charged with unknown offences after taking photographs of military facilities.

The two men and four other Japanese nationals were detained in March last year while they were assisting in geological assessments of sites in Shandong and Hainan provinces after receiving orders from two Chinese hot spring developers.

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They were formally arrested in September last year, while the others have already returned to Japan after having been released.

Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, had reported in July last year that the two were suspected of having violated the country’s anti-espionage and national security laws.

It said authorities retrieved a large amount of classified information, including nearly 80 copies of maps, from the pair’s computers and other electronic devices.

The issue of the Japanese detainees was raised at the summit level when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China in October, and stated that the Japanese government is not engaged in spying activities in China.

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