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Japanese police seized a Chinese intruder inside the grounds of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo in May 1998 and released him after questioning, police confirmed Saturday.

The incident took place on May 15, 1998, when the man, aged in his 30s or 40s, entered the Chinese Embassy via the main gate, left the building and then rushed back into the building through the same gate, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Several MPD police and riot police chased the man and took him away, MPD officials said.

The man carried a foreigner’s registration card, they said.

The MPD is investigating whether the incident is the one referred to in a statement issued by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan, who said, “several Japanese police entered the main building of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo and took persons of unknown identity away without the consent of the Chinese side” in May 1998.

In the statement, carried Saturday by the official Xinhua News Agency, Kong said that China handled that affair with calm and prudence.

The 1998 incident came to light as Tokyo and Beijing continue a diplomatic feud over the seizure of five North Korean asylum seekers by Chinese police inside the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, northeastern China.

Tokyo says the Chinese guards violated diplomatic conventions by entering the compound without permission, while Beijing insists the action was necessary for security reasons.

Kong said armed Chinese police officers took measures to intercept the five people, whose identities have not been confirmed, with the consent of a deputy Japanese consul.

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