• Kyodo

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Four Japanese nationals detained in China for allegedly entering a military zone without permission are fine, the Japanese Embassy in Beijing said Saturday after a meeting with them at a hotel in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province.

“All the four said they are fine with no health or other problems,” the embassy said in a press release. “They asked us to tell their respective families that they are fine.”

The embassy has requested China “ensures humanitarian treatment and appropriate procedures based on law” for the four men, who are employees of construction company Fujita Corp., the release said.

The men were quoted as saying there was no violence involved when they were detained Monday in Hebei Province and later questioned by Chinese authorities.

The diplomats met the four men from 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, the embassy said.

The detainees are Yoshiro Sasaki, 44, of Fujita’s international business department, Hiroki Hashimoto, 39, from its sales division, as well as Sadamu Takahashi, 57, and Junichi Iguchi, 59, both from a local subsidiary.

They have been under “residential surveillance,” meaning they are likely restricted at a hotel or other lodging facility in Shijiazhuang, rather than in a detention facility.

It was not immediately known if the Japanese diplomats met the four men in the hotel they have been staying at.

Some observers suggested the Chinese action may be part of retaliatory steps China took against Japan for Tokyo’s earlier detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain after maritime collisions near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

It is uncertain how the release early Saturday morning of the Chinese skipper will affect the situation of the four Japanese.

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