Tokyo: Japanese police searched the home
on Thursday of a coast guard officer who said he leaked a video
showing a collision between Japanese patrol vessels and a
Chinese fishing boat that plunged Japan-China relations to
their lowest point in decades.
The September 7 collision near islands claimed by both
Tokyo and Beijing in the East China Sea sparked nationalistic
fervour on both sides. It was worried the leak of the video
could lead to a fresh flare-up in tensions at a summit of
world leaders in Japan this weekend.
The footage had been kept secret, other than an edited
version shown to some legislators, angering some in Japan who
thought it may be evidence of Chinese wrongdoing. The video
shows the fishing boat ramming into a Japanese ship amid
screams and wailing sirens. It popped up on YouTube last week.
The unnamed officer acknowledged yesterday he was
responsible for the leak, reportedly telling police, "People
have the right to see the video."
The officer has been questioned by police since. Several
police officers were shown on nationally televised news
walking into the man`s home today, though police declined to
elaborate on the search.
The story has gripped Japan, topping TV news programmes
and dominating front-pages of national newspapers. Public
opinion had already been torn over the government`s handling
of the collision and relations with China.
China appeared to shrug off the video fiasco in Japan.
"We have taken note of the relevant report. China does
not want to see any more disturbances to China-Japan relations
because of the video issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong
Lei told reporters in Beijing.
Japanese media have identified the officer as a
43-year-old male who acknowledged posting the video from a
cafe in Kobe, central Japan.
If charged and convicted of violating laws requiring
secrecy by public servants, he could face up to a year in
prison or a USD 6,000 fine.
Yoshito Sengoku, the top government spokesman, has said
the penalty is too lenient and the law should be revised.
The Yomiuri newspaper reported the officer acted alone,
using the YouTube account "sengoku38" in a sarcastic reference
to the government spokesman.
Although the original upload has been removed, copies on
YouTube are attracting tens of thousands of views and a flood
Opinion has been divided on whether the officer merely
did the right thing or is a traitor. The coast guard has been
deluged with more than 300 calls pleading he be spared
punishment, local media reports say. The coast guard declined