Japanese Ambassador to China Kenji Kanasugi on Tuesday met with a Japanese employee of Astellas Pharma who has been detained by Chinese authorities on suspicion of espionage, diplomatic sources said.

It is the second time that Kanasugi has met with the man in his 50s working for the Japanese drugmaker since assuming his current post in December last year.

With this month marking one year since the man was held, Kanasugi told him about the Japanese government's efforts to realize his early release.

The meeting was held in Beijing for about 30 minutes. The man had no particular health problems, according to the sources.

Earlier this month, Chinese authorities told Japan that they started discussing whether to indict him. They are expected to make a decision within a month in principle, or in about six months at the longest.

The man was held in Beijing in March last year, just before his scheduled return to Japan. He was arrested in October last year on suspicion of violating the anti-espionage law, according to the Chinese government. But it has not given further details.

The Japanese government has called on China to release him as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida directly asked for his release in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November last year.