Japanese man detained in China is Astellas Pharma employee

TOKYO (Reuters) -A Japanese man detained in China is an employee of Astellas Pharma Inc, a company spokesperson told Reuters on Sunday.

The company did not identify the employee and the spokesperson said it was not clear as to why he had been detained.

The Japanese pharmaceutical company was seeking information through Japan’s foreign ministry, the spokesperson said.

Kyodo and other Japanese media reported on Saturday that a Japanese man in his 50s was taken into custody in Beijing this month for an alleged violation of Chinese law.

But China had not fully explained what prompted authorities in Beijing to detain the man, media said.

The Japanese government had asked Chinese authorities to release the man, media reported.

At least 16 Japanese nationals, not counting this case, have been detained in China on suspicion of engaging in spying activities since 2015, according to Kyodo.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Robert Birsel)