Japan demands China pull back boats from disputed islands

Japan demanded today that China pull back two fisheries patrol boats from near a disputed island chain that is at the centre of the worst diplomatic row in years between the Asian giants.

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2010, 21:48 PM IST

Tokyo: Japan demanded today that China
pull back two fisheries patrol boats from near a disputed
island chain that is at the centre of the worst diplomatic row
in years between the Asian giants.

Tokyo also summoned Beijing`s ambassador to demand
regular consular access to four Japanese nationals whom China
detained last week amid the ugly spat for allegedly filming a
military facility.

The latest developments came days after Japan freed
a Chinese fishing boat captain, a move which failed to ease
the escalating tensions and was met by China with a demand for
an apology from its traditional Asian rival.

The dispute was sparked on September 8 when Japan`s
coastguard arrested the skipper on suspicion of intentionally
ramming two of its patrol vessels in a chase near the disputed
islands.

Amid the rising bad blood, Japan`s top government
spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, today said
Tokyo would ask Beijing to pay for the damage to the
coastguard boats.

China has called the skipper`s arrest invalid and
illegal, arguing that the islands have been part of China
since ancient times.

The islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in
China, lie in an area between Japan`s far-southern Okinawa
island and Taiwan that has rich fishing grounds and is
believed to contain oil and gas reserves.

Today, Sengoku said fresh trouble was brewing in
the area.

Two Chinese vessels, he said, "are nearing the
waters around the Senkaku islands but have not entered
Japanese territorial waters, as coastguard vessels are on
guard against their entry".

Japan had already asked China four times to
withdraw the ships from near the islands, he told a regular
news conference.

PTI