• Thu
  • Jul 24, 2014
  • Updated: 3:33pm

Chinese diplomat leaves Japan amid spying claims

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2012, 12:00am

A diplomat in charge of economic affairs at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo has left Japan amid media reports he was spying and taking illegal consulting fees from a Japanese company.

The Chinese embassy confirmed yesterday that the diplomat, indentified by press reports as the former first secretary for economic affairs, was no longer in the post and had left the country, but denied the claims made in the Japanese press.

'These allegations of a so-called spy are baseless and erroneous,' an embassy spokesman told the South China Morning Post, before declining to comment further.

The spy claims provide yet another source of potential tension between Beijing and Tokyo, whose ties have already been strained in recent months by territorial disputes and perceived diplomatic slights.

Citing police sources, the Japanese media have reported that Tokyo police filed a request earlier this month through the Japanese foreign ministry calling on the diplomat to turn himself in for questioning. The embassy refused to comply.

The man was identified as Li Chunguang, 45, who had reportedly once served in a People's Liberation Army intelligence unit, although Tokyo police and the embassy would not confirm that information.

Tokyo police were quoted as saying they had been monitoring the diplomat for years and believed him to be a spy. In addition, they said they believed he concocted a false identity to take under-the-table payments from an unidentified Japanese company interested in expanding in the Chinese market.

The official had reportedly begun approaching key Japanese business and political figures after he was promoted in mid-2007 to overseas economic affairs for the embassy.

The people say the diplomat falsely obtained a foreign resident identification card which he used to open a bank account, which received a monthly 'advisory fee' of 100,000 yen (HK$9,769) from the company.

The diplomat reportedly received a bachelor's degree in Japanese in China and was a research scholar in Tokyo. In 1999, he attended the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, whose former students include Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba.

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