Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Can Chancellor Merkel's winning streak last?

Read more

FOCUS

Hunger in a fertile land...

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Why Are So Many Children Dying in Gaza?'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Seleka calls for partition

Read more

ENCORE!

High-tech acting king Andy Serkis on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Read more

REPORTERS

Hong Kong in rebellion against the 'motherland'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

  • Israel faces heightened diplomatic pressure as Gaza violence rages

    Read more

  • France charges Swiss bank UBS with tax fraud

    Read more

  • In pictures: Thousands march for Gaza peace in Paris

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

  • Bomb attacks leave scores dead in north Nigeria

    Read more

  • Netherlands holds day of mourning for victims of flight MH17

    Read more

  • Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down over rebel-held territory

    Read more

  • Ryanair ordered to pay back €9.6m in illegal state aid to France

    Read more

  • Gaza protests: ‘France imported the Mideast conflict a long time ago’

    Read more

  • Video: Fear, death and mourning in Gaza’s Khan Younis

    Read more

  • TransAsia Airways Taiwan crash leaves dozens dead

    Read more

  • Poland’s Rafal Majka wins 17th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Young riders raise French hopes for Tour de France

    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)