TOKYO (AP) — Two more Japanese citizens are being held in China on suspicion of spying, bringing the total number to four, Japanese media reported.
Japan and China acknowledged last month that two Japanese had been arrested in May on suspected spying charges — one in Zhejiang province and the other near the North Korean border in Liaoning.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news conference on Monday that Chinese authorities are investigating the latest case and have given Japan relevant information. She said she was unaware of how many people had been detained.
Japan's Foreign Ministry refused to confirm or deny the reports.
The two earlier cases are the only ones linked to spying allegations that the Japanese government has been informed of, said Kazunari Kotake, an official in the ministry's department in charge of the safety of overseas Japanese.
The government has warned Japanese visitors to China to use extra caution. Japan is not taking any immediate additional steps in response to the newly reported detentions, Kotake said.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK said over the weekend that the latest cases involved a man in his 60s who was arrested in Beijing, and a woman in her 50s who was arrested in Shanghai. The woman was the most recent case to surface but both were detained in June, it said.
China enacted an anti-spying law last November, in a move experts said was aimed at increasing surveillance of foreigners' activities in the country.
The four people had businesses or connections with China and frequently visited the country, according to Japanese media reports.
In 2010, four employees of a Japanese construction company were accused of filming a Chinese military site in Hebei province but were released within weeks.
Associated Press news assistant Dong Tongjian in Beijing contributed to this report.