Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users show solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Gilles Kepel, Islamic and Arab world specialist

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Argentina braced for another debt default

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'What would you do?'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola virus: Liberia shuts most border points

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Netanyahu says Gaza operation will not end quickly

Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • EU broadens sanctions on Russia over Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    Read more

  • France extradites suspected Jewish Museum shooter to Belgium

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs born in French zoo

    Read more

  • France evacuates its nationals from Libya

    Read more

  • Israeli strikes target symbols of Hamas power

    Read more

  • US says Russia violated arms treaty by testing cruise missile

    Read more

  • Argentina in last-ditch effort to avert default

    Read more

  • Karzai’s cousin killed in Afghan suicide attack

    Read more

  • Libya oil tanker fire blazes out of control

    Read more

  • In pictures: From Gaza to Mosul, bittersweet end of Ramadan for Muslims

    Read more

  • Moroccan police arrest French al Qaeda recruiter

    Read more

  • French mayor files complaint against US father who risked kids’ lives on Mont Blanc

    Read more

  • French footballer Griezmann headed to Atletico Madrid

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Japan releases Chinese fishing vessel crew but holds captain

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-13

Japan on Monday released the 14 crew members of a Chinese fishing vessel seized last week after a maritime clash near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea but has kept its captain in custody. Japan claims the trawler was fishing illegally.

AFP - Japan on Monday released the 14 crew of a Chinese fishing trawler seized last week but kept its captain in custody, doing little to soothe Beijing's fury in a bitter row between the Asian rivals.
   
The diplomatic spat centres on a disputed island chain in the East China Sea, where Japan says the Chinese boat was fishing illegally last week and, when ordered to leave, rammed two Japanese coastguard vessels during a chase.
   
Since Tokyo arrested the skipper early Wednesday, Beijing has reacted furiously, summoning Japan's ambassador four times, cancelling talks on joint energy exploration and confronting two Japanese survey ships at sea.
   
On Monday, China -- where the issue has sparked strong patriotic passions -- again demanded that Japan immediately release the vessel's captain, 41-year-old Zhan Qixiong, who it said was being illegally detained.
   
"All the people of China... condemn the illegal Japanese behaviour in one voice and fully embody the staunch will and determination of the Chinese government and people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
   
The uninhabited islands where the incident took place -- called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China -- lie in an area believed to contain rich seafloor energy deposits, and have been a frequent focus of regional tensions.
   
The latest flare-up comes at a time when Japan is voicing concern over China's military rise, including its naval reach deeper into Pacific waters, and has repeatedly called for greater transparency in Beijing's defence spending.
   
The rivalry between Japan, Asia's post-war economic engine room, and the population giant next door is, meanwhile, reaching a turning point this year, with China on course to replace Japan as the world's second-biggest economy.
   
The arrest of the Chinese skipper has ignited nationalistic passions in China, where a small protest was permitted outside the Japanese embassy last week and both state media and bloggers have condemned the arrest.
   
The trawler's 14 crew were Monday brought home to the southeastern city of Fuzhou aboard a chartered Chinese government jet. State television showed images of the crew smiling as they disembarked.
   
Their trawler also left Japan's Ishigaki Island, steered by another captain.
   
However the vessel's captain, Zhan, is being held on suspicion of obstructing officers on duty, a charge that under Japanese law carries a penalty of up to three years in prison. He has not yet been indicted.
   
Japan's top government spokesman Yoshito Sengoku said that questioning of the crew had been completed, meaning there was no reason to keep them, and that prosecutors had also finished collecting evidence from the ship.
   
"We will handle this as a criminal case based on Japanese domestic law," Sengoku told a regular press briefing, reiterating Tokyo's position that there is no territorial dispute over the islands.
   
Speaking about the latest time Japan's ambassador was called in, in the early hours of Sunday, he said, "It was regrettable that China summoned the ambassador at such hours. But we are handling this issue calmly."
   
He added that "we are puzzled by China's announcement to call off the talks on joint development of gas fields due to this issue."
   
The government spokesman also voiced hope that tensions with China would calm, telling reporters: "I expect that, once the boat and the 14 crew return, we'll see more development."

 

Date created : 2010-09-13

  • DIPLOMACY

    North Korea returns fishing boat to South

    Read more

  • ENVIRONMENT

    Scientists slam IWC's proposal to end global whaling ban

    Read more

  • JAPAN

    China leapfrogs Japan as world's second-largest economy

    Read more

COMMENT(S)