İrem UZUN -TDO- Chinese authorities have detained a Japanese man in Beijing, a government spokesman in Tokyo confirmed Monday, following media reports that a university professor was being held on suspicion of spying. "The Japanese embassy in China confirmed that a Japanese man in his 40s was detained by Chinese authorities in Beijing in September for (allegedly) violating Chinese laws," Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters. He did not specify the charges against the man, but local media have identified him as a professor from Hokkaido University who was held on suspicion of spying.

The man, who has not been named, worked previously for the National Institute for Defense Studies in the defence ministry and the Japanese foreign ministry, according to local media reports. "Within the framework of protecting Japanese expatriates, we are holding meetings between (the man and) consuls and communicating with his family members, but we decline to comment on further details given the nature of this case," Suga said.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not know the details of the case, but that China "has always handled foreign nationals suspected of breaking China's law, in accordance with the law". China will "provide the necessary assistance in order for the Japanese side to perform the normal consular duties, in accordance with the relevant provisions," Hua said at a regular press briefing. "We hope that the Japanese side can remind its citizens to respect China's laws and regulations, and avoid engaging in illegal activities in China," she said. But, she added, China is "willing to work together with Japan to promote the continued progress of China-Japan relations along the correct path" and that "these are two completely separate issues".

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