The Japanese Embassy in Beijing has been granted in-person consular access to an employee of pharmaceutical firm Astellas Pharma Inc., who has been detained in China since March on suspicion of espionage, a source familiar with bilateral relations said Friday.

The meeting took place Wednesday in the Chinese capital and an examination by an accompanying medical officer confirmed the man had no health issues. Embassy officials conveyed a message from his family, the source said.

Previously, the Chinese government only allowed consular access to the senior Astellas employee via video link, citing the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Japan has demanded the man's early release and the provision of specific reasons for his detention, but China has yet to respond to the request, the source said.

The Japanese Embassy in Beijing is pictured on March 26, 2023. (Kyodo)

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