China calls on Japan to offer apology and compensation
China urged Japan on Saturday to offer an apology and compensation over the recent dispute surrounding a boat collision in the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. The call immediately followed the Saturday return of a Chinese skipper who was detained in Japan for 17 days after his boat collided with two Japanese coast guard vessels near the disputed Diaoyu Islands in Chinese or Senkaku in Japanese on Sept. 7. The islets are administered by Japan but are also claimed by China. "Japan's seizure, investigation and judicial procedures of the Chinese fishermen and the fishing vessel were illegal and invalid in any form," said an official statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry. "Japan must apologize to the Chinese side about this case and must compensate." Tensions between the two Asian powerhouses have been running high after Japan arrested 15 Chinese fishermen after the collision. Japan had returned the boat and other crew members to China after holding them for five days but had continued to detain the captain. China had been demanding the immediate release of the captain, arguing that he was illegally detained by the Japanese government. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged Japan on Tuesday to set the fisherman free, claiming the islands and nearby seas where the collision occurred are "part of China's sacred territory." The premier warned that China would not tolerate inaction from Japan. "If Japan clings obstinately to its own course and insists on making one mistake after another, China will take further action, and all the consequences should be born by the Japanese side," he said. On Friday, the Japanese government said it was confirming the news that Chinese exports of rare earth materials to Japan have been halted. Rare earth materials are a collection of seventeen chemical elements, which can be used to make many modern technological devices, including displays and hybrid car components. Currently, China is the No. 1 exporter of rare earth materials, as it produces 97 percent of the world's supply of the materials. While the Chinese government denied applying such an export embargo, it was speculated to have taken place in a link to the recent dispute. Later in the day, a Japanese judicial court decided to release the captain, saying the punishment on the Chinese man was "reserved" after taking into consideration the relationship of the two countries. The captain returned on a charter flight sent by the Chinese government to his home town in Fujian, a southeastern Chinese province, at around 4:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Source: Ghana News Agency