BEIJING — China called on Tokyo on Tuesday to quickly and appropriately resolve the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain who refused to heed a coast guard inspection order in Japan’s territorial waters.
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The boat was spotted by the coast guard near the Goto islands off Nagasaki in southwestern Japan and asked to stop with commands and signs in Chinese, but the vessel ignored the call, the Nagasaki Coast Guard Office said.
“China has noted relevant reports and is currently investigating and verifying the situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
“This is an ordinary fishing incident. China hopes that Japan conscientiously protects the legal rights of the Chinese sailors and appropriately resolves this issue as soon as possible.”
The incident comes little more than a year after tensions between Japan and China flared up following a detention of a captain of a Chinese trawler that collided with Japanese patrol boats near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The clash stirred nationalistic frenzy in both countries and severely strained diplomatic relations.
This time, however, the Chinese ship was detained in an area that is not a subject of territorial disputes, the coast guard said, and governments and media of both nations have reacted with restraint.
Nagasaki coast guard said the 10 crew members and the fishing vessel arrived at Nagasaki port on Monday afternoon.
Unlike the boat’s captain, who was brought to Nagasaki on Sunday evening for questioning, none of the crew members had been arrested, but will probably be questioned about the incident.
The two countries are at odds over China’s exploration for natural gas in the East China Sea. In 2008, they agreed on principle to resolve the feud by jointly developing gas fields.
Progress has been slow and Japan has accused China of drilling for gas in violation of the deal.
The seas are at the center of a territorial dispute between the two countries focused on a group of uninhabited islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.