Japan Releases China Fishing Boat Crew, Keeps Captain
Following repeated complaints from the Chinese government, Japan has released the crew members aboard a fishing boat which collided with a Japanese Coast Guard vessel last week, but they have kept the captain in detention. From Bloomberg:
Japan refused to release the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels last week in disputed waters, ignoring China’s repeated calls to free him.
Japan let go the 14 remaining crew members, who will fly back to China today, and the boat will be released as well, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told reporters in Tokyo. The captain remains under arrest pending an investigation.
The collision took place in the East China Sea near islands known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese claimed by both countries. Sovereignty over the area would give the holder rights to undersea gas and oil reserves, and China broke off joint development talks following the captain’s arrest.
“Japan’s response to an illegal fishing operation by the Coast Guard and the investigation authorities are conducting are logical and appropriate,” Sengoku said. “It’s very troubling that the gas field exploration talks are being halted in connection with this. These are separate issues.”
See also from Reuters: “Q&A: Where is the China-Japan sea dispute headed?“