The government is weighing the idea of releasing video footage of Monday’s collision between a North Korean fishing vessel and a Fisheries Agency patrol ship in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday.
“We are considering when and how to release it,” the top government spokesman said at a news conference. “The video captured the scene when the collision occurred,” he said, without elaborating.
The government was reluctant to release the video during the Japan Coast Guard’s investigation, but a government official said the same day that releasing it “will no longer affect the investigation.”
The collision occurred at around 9:07 a.m. Monday about 350 km (20 miles) northwest of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, near the fertile squid and fishing waters of the Yamatotai area in the Sea of Japan.
Suspecting the North Korean vessel was fishing illegally in the EEZ, the agency’s 1,300-ton patrol ship Okuni warned it to leave by loudspeaker and fired water cannons at it.
The vessel then collided with the agency’s patrol ship and sank about 20 minutes later. All of the crew, numbering about 60, survived and left the area on a different North Korean vessel that was nearby.
Japanese authorities did not detain the crew because they could not obtain evidence of illegal fishing, according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has vowed “resolute” action to rein in illicit activities by foreign vessels.
Some members of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party have criticized the government’s handling of the incident as lukewarm and called for the video to be released.
Alarmed by a recent rise in poaching by North Korean and Chinese vessels, local fishermen have been urging the authorities to increase patrols.
The Fisheries Agency has already released photos, including one that captured water cannons being fired at the North Korean vessel.