A Japanese diplomat sent to Shanghai for language training was hastily recalled June 5 after Chinese authorities summoned him for questioning.
The Foreign Ministry ordered the man home out of concern that authorities in Beijing intended to retaliate for a suspected spying scandal in Japan involving a Chinese Embassy official who has already left the country.
According to a well-placed source, someone with close ties to the Japanese government, Chinese public safety authorities sought to question the Japanese official.
But at the instruction of the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, the man skipped the summons and left China, the source said.
The source said the official was sent to Shanghai last year for two years of language training.
After visiting a provincial city for research, the man was approached by a Chinese public safety official who asked him to turn himself in.
The source said the trainee reported the matter to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. The Foreign Ministry apparently suspected that the Chinese government planned to hold him in custody as an alleged spy in a tit-for-tat for a similar scandal in Japan.
Japanese police recently investigated a first secretary at the Chinese Embassy on suspicion of spying on influential business leaders and politicians.
The first secretary has already returned to China, and refused Japanese overtures to present himself for questioning.
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