Chinese Trawler Rams Japanese Patrol Boats

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    Japan has seized a Chinese trawler after it rammed two Japanese coast guard vessels in the waters around the Senkaku Islands. The Chinese government, which also claims ownership of the islands, has demanded the ship and its crew be set free:

    The collisions occurred after a Japanese patrol ship ordered the fishing trawler to cease operations near the rocky islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

    In the ensuing confrontation the Chinese boat’s bow hit the ship’s stern before it sailed off. About 40 minutes later it collided with another Japanese patrol boat.

    China has twice summoned Japan’s ambassador to demand the release of the skipper.

    The captain could be released in a couple of days if he acknowledges the allegation of obstructing public duties resulting in the collision and pays a fine, Masahiro Ichijo, the Japan coast guard spokesman, said. If not, it is likely that he would have to stand trial.

    China’s official media said there could be setbacks to diplomatic relations if Japan did not release Zhan.

    A Yomiuri editorial argues in support of the Japanese government:

    The Chinese boat on Tuesday allegedly ignored orders by JCG patrol vessels to halt and in an attempt to flee collided with two of the JCG vessels. Believing that the fishing boat’s actions were deliberate, the JCG took the captain into custody on suspicion of obstructing official duties of marine safety officers.

    We hope the JCG will clarify the circumstances surrounding the trawler’s collision with the two patrol vessels as well as illegal fishing by Chinese vessels.


    The Chinese government asserts that the Senkakus belong to China and that, therefore, the trawler was not fishing illegally in Japanese waters. It also protested the captain’s arrest through diplomatic channels.

    However, no country protested when the Meiji government incorporated the islands into Japanese territory in 1895. Under the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed in 1951, the islands were not included among those territories abandoned by Japan.

    China and Taiwan did not claim the islands until the early 1970s, when petroleum and natural gas reserves were found under the ocean floor around the islands in the East China Sea. It is obvious that China’s claim is unreasonable.

    So far, both sides seem to be reacting calmly to the incident. Media reports about anti-Japanese protests in China have noted that they were rather small.

    [hat tip to kobzster]

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