Will the Public Ever See the Senkaku Boat Collision Video?

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    The DPJ government is facing a lot of pressure from opposition parties over their decision to withhold the video footage of the September collision between a Chinese trawler and Japanese coast guard patrol ships near the Japanese-held Senkaku islands. The tape is said to provide indisputable evidence that the Chinese trawler rammed the Japanese ships, and it seems the DPJ is afraid to release it because it could make China angry:

    “It’s important to inform the public of the facts,” LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara said.

    New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi also wants the footage shown to the public. “The information was obtained by using taxpayers’ money,” he said at a press conference Wednesday. Your Party shares this view.

    Now, the DPJ is walking a tightrope as it deals with this issue.

    The DPJ agreed to submit the footage to the Diet in return for opposition parties’ cooperation in managing Diet affairs, but releasing the footage could aggravate still strained Japan-China ties.

    Senior DPJ leaders will have to balance the potential benefits and fallout of releasing the footage.

    “There are differing views on this matter, and there are diplomatic considerations to take into account,” said Yoshio Hachiro, chairman of the DPJ Diet Affairs Committee.

    The party leadership is lukewarm on the idea of releasing the footage. It wants the video shown only to a select group, such as directors of the lower house Budget Committee, sources said.

    However, only partly releasing the video would give opposition parties ammunition to use on the DPJ, they said.

    Many DPJ members believe the government may have already blown its chance to make best use of the video.

    “It was a mistake [that the government] didn’t release the footage shortly after the Chinese captain was arrested,” a midranking DPJ lawmaker said. “The government missed an opportunity there.”

    Since the Chinese government and media have insisted that the Japanese ships were the ones doing the ramming, a video tape that proves otherwise could be embarrassing enough to trigger some form of retaliation from China. For now, it looks like the DPJ will at least wait until next month’s APEC summit over to release the tape.


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