A Japanese man sentenced to prison in Guangzhou, southern China, in 2019 has been released and will be returning home, the Japanese Consulate General in the city said on Monday. Although the man’s identity has not been revealed, he is believed to be an employee of major Japanese trading house Itochu Corp in his 40s who was sentenced in the fall of 2019 for harming China ’s national security, according to people familiar with the matter. In November 2019, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi confirmed a male employee of Itochu had been sentenced the previous month in Guangzhou to a three-year prison term. Japanese man jailed in China for 15 years for spying The consulate told Kyodo News on Monday that a Japanese national who had been arrested in the southern China city was recently released and is preparing to return to Japan . The man was detained by the National Security Bureau on suspicion of spying during a visit to Guangzhou in February 2018. He was sentenced by a district court in the city to three years in prison on October 15, 2019. He also had 150,000 yuan (US$21,300) confiscated as part of the sentence. It is not known what he had done in China to be convicted of harming the country’s national security. Japanese man gets 5½ years’ jail for stealing China state secrets Since 2015, at least nine Japanese nationals have been charged in China for alleged involvement in espionage activities. In May 2019, a Chinese court sentenced a Japanese man convicted of spying to 15 years in prison in Hainan province. In another case, a man in his 70s was sentenced to 5½ years in prison in Shandong province for stealing state secrets, sources well-informed about Sino-Japanese relations said. Last year, China gave an early release to a Japanese man who was sentenced to a prison in Dalian, Liaoning Province, in 2018 for spying and other charges.