Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday rejected China’s demand for an apology and compensation over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain the Japan Coast Guard arrested near the disputed Senkaku Islands.
“The Senkakus are an integral part of Japanese territory,” Kan told reporters. “I have no intention of accepting (the demand) at all.”
At the same time, Kan called for a calm response as relations between Japan and China continue to fray over the incident.
“It is important for both sides to act with a broader point of view,” he said.
As for the reasons behind the skipper’s release, Kan repeated that the prosecutors’ decision was based on domestic law but said he was “thinking about the nature of the incident comprehensively.”
In a statement released early Saturday shortly after 41-year-old Zhan Qixiong was taken back to China, the Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded an apology and compensation.
Zhan arrived in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, on a chartered plane after being released a few hours earlier by Japanese prosecutors. He had been detained for over two weeks on suspicion of deliberately causing his vessel to hit a Japanese patrol boat that was pursuing him near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The islands are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.
The Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Okinawa Prefecture decided Friday to release Zhan in light of Tokyo’s relations with Beijing.
On a Sunday TV program, meanwhile, Nobuteru Ishihara, secretary general of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, expressed readiness to ask the Diet to summon prosecutors to testify about the the skipper’s release in an extraordinary Diet session to be convened from Friday.
Ishihara criticized the government’s response, saying, “It’s diplomatically tone-deaf and a historic blunder.”
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