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Chinese captain sent to prosecutors in Okinawa

2010-09-09 10:47

TOKYO - Japan Coast Guard sent the captain of a Chinese trawler which collided with Japanese patrol ships in waters off Diaoyu Islands to prosecutors in Okinawa Prefecture Thursday morning.

The 41-year-old captain, Zhan Qixiong, was taken to Ishigaki branch of the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office at around 9:50 am (0050 GMT), according to Xinhua reporters at the scene.

On Tuesday, two Japan Coast Guard patrol boats and the Chinese fishing boat collided in waters off the Diaoyu Islands.

No injuries were reported, but the fishing boat was then intercepted by Japanese patrol boats.

Japan Coast Guard arrested the captain on suspicion of "obstructing public duties" early Wednesday near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea despite China's protest.

The other 14 crew members, all Chinese, were not arrested, but were kept in an area off Ishigaki and remain there during their captain's questioning.

Chinese embassy officials met with the captain at the Ishigaki Coast Guard Office in Ishigaki and the other crew members aboard the fishing boat on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry lodged a strong protest against Japan over the detention of the boat.

Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa to lodge the protest.

This was the second time within 24 hours that the Chinese government summoned the Japanese ambassador and lodged solemn representations on this issue.

Hu demanded that the Japanese side immediately release the ship and crew members on board and guarantee the safety of the persons and the ship.

Japan Coast Guard officials told Chinese embassy officials the 14 crew members are healthy and will be released soon, depending on the process of the questioning, local media reports said.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the incident will be handled "in a strict manner based on our country's laws," while top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said he believes the arrest will not affect ties between Japan and China despite exchanges of protests and it is necessary for Tokyo not to "heat up" in dealing with the incident.

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