Japan investigates senior Chinese diplomat for spying

Chinese embassy in Tokyo
Japanese authorities are investigating a senior Chinese diplomat for having engaged in “activities in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”, which is technical language for espionage. The diplomat, who has been named by the Associated Press as Li Chunguang, and is fluent in Japanese, was posted at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo in July of 2007 as the Embassy’s Second Secretary in charge of economic affairs. But Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency, which serves as the country’s primary counterintelligence organization, secretly monitored Li’s activities almost from the moment he was posted in Tokyo, eventually reaching the conclusion that the Chinese diplomat had ties to “an intelligence division of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army”. Earlier this year, the Agency determined that Li had used fraudulent information and had failed to disclose his diplomatic status while applying for an alien registration certificate from the Japanese government. According to news reports, he used the fraudulent certificate to open a bank account in Tokyo, where he deposited ¥100,000 (about US$ 1,300). According to Japanese investigators, Li he planned to “use [the money] for intelligence activities”. In mid-May of this year, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acting on a tip from Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department, requested from the Chinese Embassy that Li turned himself in “for questioning”. However, instead of presenting himself to Japanese authorities, as requested, Li left his Tokyo Embassy post for good on May 23, and is presumed to be back in China. In response to Li’s sudden departure from Japan, the Public Security Intelligence Agency is currently building what Japanese media describe as “an espionage case” against Li, under the country’s Alien Registration Law. Meanwhile, the Chinese government rejects Japan’s spying allegations, saying that media reports of Li’s spying are “totally groundless, have no basis in fact and are outrageous”. According to Yang Yu, Counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, Li left Japan due to “the expiration of his term in office”. If Japanese authorities proceed to charge Li, he will become the first Chinese diplomat in modern times to be charged with violating Japanese legislation.

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