China detains 35 Japanese suspected of telecom fraud


Thirty-five Japanese nationals have been detained in southern China on suspicion of telecommunications fraud, the Chinese foreign ministry said Wednesday.

The arrests took place on June 30, foreign ministry Geng Shuang said during a regular press briefing, without providing more details.

Japanese media reported that Japan's National Police Agency asked local authorities in southeastern Fujian province to track down the individuals, who police believe targeted people in Japan with a telephone scam.

"According to our consulate-general in Guangzhou, local authorities told them on July 3 that 35 Japanese nationals have been taken into criminal detention," a Japanese foreign ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"A criminal investigation is continuing" in China, the official said without elaborating.

China has notified Japan of the arrests in accordance with the consular agreement between the two countries, Geng said.

China and Japan do not have an extradition treaty.

The Japanese nationals are linked with at least one telephone fraud case involving a victim in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, according to national broadcaster NHK and the Nikkei newspaper.

China is investigating whether the group has also committed similar crimes there, the Nikkei said.

Japan sees thousands of fraud cases in which victims, particularly the elderly, are tricked into transferring money to criminals who call them pretending to be relatives in financial distress.

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