The Japan Coast Guard revealed on Tuesday that it had arrested the Chinese captain of a fishing boat for illegally entering Japan’s exclusive economic waters near the Okinawan chain of islands. The identity of the 44 year old captain hasn’t been revealed, but he was arrested on suspicion of illegal fishing, while the boat and its crew of 11 were accompanied to Okinawa.
A spokesman for the coast guard says one of their planes patrolling the areas around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands spotted the fishing boat Tuesday morning. Three patrol ships were sent to investigate, finding the Chinese crew around 44 kilometers northeast of the island of Miyako, which 210 kilometers from the largest of the Senkaku islets. By Japanese law, those caught fishing within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone without permission can be fined up to 10 million yen (approx. $107,000).
As the territorial dispute between Japan and China continues to simmer, this incident takes place amid regular intrusions into the waters around the Senkakus by Chinese government ships, and follows several arrests of fishermen inside Japan’s economic waters. In early February another Chinese captain was arrested on the suspicion of coral fishing near Nagasaki Prefecture, getting released several days later after his government posted a bail guarantee. If today’s arrest follows the usual pattern, next will come a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry telling Japanese authorities to ensure the fishermen’s safety, possibly followed by calls to have them released immediately.[via Channel News Asia]