Tokyo: Japan's foreign minister Tuesday urged China to take measures to stop Chinese fishermen from poaching red coral in Japanese waters.
Fumio Kishida said that as many as 200 Chinese fishing boats were seen last Thursday near populated Japanese islands, 440 kilometers south of Tokyo Bay, and Japan had complained to China about it.
The boats have been sailing north from near the Ogasawara islets, 1,800 kilometers south of Japan's mainland, since mid-September. Their movement toward the more populated Izu islets and the mainland has raised concerns of Japanese residents.
Kishida said five poaching-related arrests have been made since September. The illegally gathered red coral can fetch high prices on the black market in China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said yesterday that the illegal harvesting of red coral was prohibited and that Chinese authorities would keep enhancing supervision and law enforcement.
Japanese Defence Minister Akinori Eto said the coast guard and police were handling the matter.