The captain and crew of a Chinese fishing boat that were caught inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Saturday, February 2nd, have been released by the Tokyo government. This incident occurs as the dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands rolls on, with Chinese patrol ships almost constantly found in the waters around the Tokyo-controlled territory. But now it seems as if China is encouraging its fishermen to illegally enter the waters of Japan’s main islands, as almost the exact same incident – detainment and all – took place just over a week ago.
The Japan Coast Guard caught the crew of 13 on Saturday fishing without permission in waters roughly 46 kilometers (29 miles) off the island of Miyako, a part of Okinawa, and 150 kilometers from the uninhabited islands of dispute. The Chinese consulate in Fukuoka called on Japanese authorities to release the fishermen as soon as possible after submitting a bail guarantee. On January 24th, a similar Chinese fishing boat was caught in Japan’s territorial waters near Nagasaki Prefecture, in the southwestern part of the country’s main islands. The crew was questioned over the incident and the captain was taken into custody, but in both that instance, and this last weekend’s, no explanation or justification for entering Japanese waters was given.
In response to the increasing rhetoric from China about military action, as well as the presence of patrol ships and government aircrafts entering or flying near Japanese airspace, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to continue defending the Senkaku from any threats. He said that the security situation around Japan is becoming more severe and provocation is rising over the country’s territorial rights. “I will take the lead to stand up against the present danger and protect the people’s lives and asset, as well as our land, the seas and the air at all costs,” Abe concluded.[via PressTV]