Tokyo confirms Japan-China boat clash video leak

Japan mulls criminal charges as part of probe into how footage was leaked.

Tokyo: Japan`s Coast Guard confirmed on Monday that an Internet video showing a collision between its vessels and a Chinese fishing boat was authentic, and said it was considering criminal charges as part of its investigation into how the footage was leaked.

The video, which appeared on YouTube on Friday, shows footage taken on September 07 of the collision near a group of disputed islands claimed by both Japan and China in the East China Sea.

The run-in sparked a high-level political rift between the two countries, and the release of the video has raised concerns of rekindled tensions during this week`s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings which culminate in a leaders summit next Saturday and Sunday in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo.

On Saturday in Tokyo, more than 3,000 Japanese protesters staged an anti-China demonstration, demanding the country give up its claim to the disputed islands. Thousands of Chinese students in a number of cities across the country have held similar demonstrations against Japan.

Coast Guard spokesman Shunsuke Shirase confirmed the video contained footage taken by Japanese authorities at the scene of the incident, and said an investigation into how it got on the Internet was continuing.

The video that appeared on YouTube shows a ship bumping a Japanese Coast Guard vessel, while sirens wailed in the background and the Japanese crew shouted orders for the ship to stop.

Called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, the islands are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. Located 120 miles (190 kilometres) east of Taiwan, the islands are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are regularly occupied by nationalists from both sides.

After the collision, China demanded an apology and compensation, but Tokyo countered by demanding that Beijing pay for damage to the patrol boats.

Beijing cut off ministerial-level contacts with Japan, repeatedly called in Tokyo`s ambassador to complain, and postponed talks on the joint development of undersea natural gas fields.

Bureau Report