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China-Japan relations

Japanese man indicted on unspecified charge in China reported to have gone on trial behind closed doors

Hideji Suzuki was taken into custody in July last year on suspicion of endangering national security

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 3:13pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2017, 10:14pm

A Chinese court in August held its first trial session for a Japanese man indicted on an unrevealed charge earlier this year, a Japanese government source said on Friday.

The first hearing for Hideji Suzuki, head of a Japan-China youth exchange association, is believed to have taken place at a court in Beijing. It was closed to the public and the charge against him remains unknown, the source said.

Suzuki is known to have developed friendly ties with China, but while staying in Beijing in July last year to make arrangements for a symposium he was taken into custody on suspicion of endangering national security.

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The allegation is often applied in cases that Beijing regards as involving espionage activities.

Suzuki was indicted in June, although he had long been treated by China as a friendly figure who made valuable contributions to bilateral ties.

China has been tightening its watch over foreign individuals and organisations since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.

A number of foreigners have been arrested on similar allegations, especially since a counter-espionage law came into force in 2014 and a new national security law took effect in 2015.

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Since 2015, at least 12 Japanese nationals have been held on such allegations or for unspecified reasons.

Four of them were released in July. But eight are still in custody and it has been confirmed by Japanese officials that Chinese closed-court hearings have already started for five of them, including Suzuki.