SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 04, 2013

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Toyo Gakuen University

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Zhu Jianrong, a Chinese scholar of Sino-Japanese affairs at Toyo Gakuen University near Tokyo, who has been held incommunicado for more than three months, has reportedly contacted family members, confirming that he is in Chinese custody, and indicating that he is healthy.
Professor Zhu went missing while on a trip to Shanghai in mid-July 2013.   Since that time, it had been widely speculated that he was being detained and questioned by Chinese authorities, although China refused to confirm that Professor Zhu was in custody.   On Monday, November 4, 2013, a Toyo Gakuen University spokesperson announced that, in late October, a Chinese official had contacted Professor Zhu’s brother in Shanghai, and had shown him a letter which, the brother confirmed, was written in Professor Zhu’s handwriting.  The letter reportedly indicated that Professor Zhu was, in fact, in Chinese custody, that he was under investigation, and that he was healthy and would return to Japan soon.  The letter did not indicate why Professor Zhu was under investigation, or when he would be released.
Sources have suggested that the investigation arises out of research that Professor Zhu was conducting, which allegedly included interviews with Chinese military officials and attempts to obtain information about the military.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the alleged incommunicado detention, without charge, of a professor, reportedly for activities undertaken during the course of his scholarly work.  Scholars at Risk recognizes that states have a legitimate interest in protecting classified information, but investigations must adhere to recognized international principals of human rights and due process.