A Japanese woman in her 50s has been detained in Shanghai since June over her suspected involvement in spying activities, sources said.
The news comes on the heels of revelations that three other Japanese are also being held by Chinese authorities over alleged espionage, the sources said Saturday.
The woman is employed by a Japanese-language school in Tokyo but the purpose of her visit to China was unclear, according to a Japanese government source. The visit is one of several she had made to China recently, the source said.
She was arrested in Shanghai by national security officials, the source said, but the charges against her are not known.
On Sept. 30, the Chinese government said two men from Japan had been arrested on suspicion of spying. Sources familiar with the matter have said the two were believed to have been collecting information at the request of Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency.
One of the two men was being held in Liaoning province, near the northeastern border with North Korea. The other was detained near a military facility in the eastern province of Zhejiang. They were formally arrested later.
“As part of their measures to gather information, Public Security Intelligence Agency officials have been courting (Japanese) businessmen who often travel to other countries,” said military journalist Buntaro Kuroi. “In the course of the relationship, some may ask (the businessmen) to visit a facility if they can.”
Kuroi said the two men may have been approached with a casual request, but probably not in a form that would require specific instructions or an exchange of money in return.
According to another Japanese government source, a resident of Sapporo in his 60s was detained in Beijing in June. The Public Security Intelligence Agency had asked the man, who has connections with Communist Party executives in China, to gauge the political climate there, the source said.
According to an acquaintance of the Sapporo man is a former airline employee who became a consultant with extensive connections and often traveled between Japan and China.
The Chinese government is increasingly cracking down on alleged spies after launching a strict new counterespionage law last November. In China, the maximum sentence for espionage is the death penalty.
On Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed again that Tokyo has not sent Japanese civilians overseas to spy on other countries.