Photo/IllutrationThe Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing (Mitsusada Enyo)

BEIJING--In the fourth such court ruling this month, a Japanese national was handed a six-year prison term for spying on May 21, sources said.

The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court, the equivalent of a district court, also ordered the seizure of assets valued at 50,000 yuan (about 800,000 yen, or $7,200).

The man, a senior official with a Japan-China friendship association, apparently had good connections with a number of officials in the Chinese Communist Party.

The sources said the court acknowledged that the defendant was gathering intelligence on North Korea and other matters.

It was the eighth such verdict in a spate of cases in which nine Japanese have been indicted on espionage charges since 2015.

The only outstanding case is one involving an employee of trading house Itochu Corp. who was taken into custody in February last year.

The timing of the court decisions sparked speculation that Chinese authorities are intending to solve pending issues concerning the two countries ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Osaka in June for the Group of 20 summit of industrialized nations.