Japan Investigating YouTube Video Showing Chinese Fishing Boat Collision
Japan is investigating a video posted on YouTube that may show the September collision of a Chinese fishing boat with Japanese Coast Guard vessels, the government’s top spokesman said.
“We need to confirm the authenticity of the footage,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told reporters today in Tokyo. Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi said today that he is leading the examination of the YouTube video, which shows a fishing vessel hitting another boat. China has asked through diplomatic channels whether the video was leaked, Sengoku said.
While Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government has shown the Coast Guard’s video of the Sept. 7 incident to politicians, it has resisted demands to release it to the public. The collision near uninhabited islands claimed by Japan and China damaged ties between Asia’s two biggest economies.
Coast Guard spokesman Shinichiro Tanaka said he can’t confirm the footage and that the investigation is ongoing.
Kan is seeking a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao when he hosts next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Yokohama. Asked whether the video would hurt prospects for a Hu- Kan summit, Sengoku said, “we hope this incident won’t have any impact and hope the meeting will be held.”
Kan has come under fire for his administration’s handling of the dispute. His popularity dropped to 36.4 percent from 48.5 percent last month, a Sankei newspaper poll published on Nov. 2 said, with almost three-fourths of respondents disapproving of his response to the incident. A Nikkei newspaper poll the previous day yielded similar findings.
To contact the reporter on this story: Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at [email protected]
Chinese fishing boat, Japan Coast Guard ships collide off Senkakus
A Chinese fishing boat collided –twice– with two Japan Coast Guard ships sent to intercept it as the boat sailed in waters claimed by Japan. The incident, which happened today, involved the fishing trawler Nippon Chinese (an odd name, since “Nippon” in Japanese means “Japan”) and the Japan Coast Guard ships Yonakuni and Mizuki.
China disputes Japan’s claimed ownership of the Senkaku Islands, where the incident took place, which in China are called the Diaoyu Islands.
The incident Tuesday morning started when Japan’s 1,349-ton patrol boat the Yonakuni ordered the Chinese trawler to cease fishing in the disputed waters, Kyodo News agency reported, citing the Japanese Coast Guard.
The Chinese boat’s bow then hit the Yonakuni‘s stern and also collided with another Japanese patrol boat, the Mizuki, some 40 minutes later, Kyodo reported citing the coastguard.
Three Japanese patrol boats then chased the Chinese vessel, and 22 Japanese personnel boarded the ship to question the Chinese crew on suspicion of violating the fisheries law, Kyodo reported. (Link)
News reports are making a big deal out of this, but the language coming out of Beijing is actually rather restrained.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu later told a regular news briefing that “China expresses great concern over this incident”.
Beijing had made “solemn representations” to Tokyo stressing that the islands have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times, she said.
China has urged Japan to stop the “so-called law enforcement activities in the adjacent borders” and not do anything that might “jeopardise the safety of Chinese fishing boats and Chinese people”.
“We will keep a close eye on developments and reserve the right to make a further response,” Jiang added.
Yonakuni, a Hateruma-class patrol vessel, is based out of Ishigaki, on Okinawa. Mizuki was involved in a 2001 incident in which a North Korean spy ship was sunk after engaging the Japan Coast Guard with RPG fire.
Mizuki. Photo via MSDF.info.
Yonakuni. Photo via timedg.com.
In the last territorial dispute at sea made public, a Japan Coast Guard ship was chased out of waters claimed by Japan by a ship half it’s size.