TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government has confirmed that a Japanese citizen was convicted of spying in China by a Chinese court.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, responding to a question, confirmed Tuesday that Japanese citizen Takahiro Iwase was sentenced to 12 years in prison with forced labor by the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court in Zhejiang earlier Tuesday. The court also ordered confiscation of all his personal assets.

Suga said the two countries should make efforts not to let the ruling affect their relations, which have recently started improving.

Suga said Iwase was arrested by the Chinese authorities in May 2015 near a military facility on suspicion of spying. Several other Japanese citizens have also been arrested or charged with spying in China in recent years.