Article first published as Japan Rejects Apology to China, Rift Deepens on Technorati.
The rift developed between the Asian giants China and Japan with Japan taking into custody, a Chinese trawler captain Zhan Qixiong. Even though the captain was released amid growing pressure from China, rift continued to mount between the two countries. However, Japan denied it released the Chinese captain because of pressure from China.
Chinese people are still aware of hard times they faced during Japanese colonial occupation of China and are inclined to protest even a small instance of disrespect. As both the countries have claims on disputed island chain known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, where the trawler collision with Japanese patrolling boats took place, the latest issue expanded beyond releasing the arrested men.
It is now understood whether only the captain was arrested and released or his crew was also involved in the incident. The BBC News reported only a captain’s arrest, but CNN reported three days ago that the captain and his crew were arrested.
Oil rich islands
The dispute on Senkaku islands in East China Sea involves potentially lucrative drilling rights in waters. The territorial dispute also hinges upon the collection of bird excrement by the Japanese and medicinal herbs available on the islands. There is also a dispute whether the islands could really be called so, as they were remains of a dead volcano. If they are not islands, then the international territorial laws will not be applicable.
The arrests took place because of Japanese claims of rights on islands. Japan maintained that the arrests were made according to their own country’s laws. It said the trawler’s crew was released because the court believed the people did not collide intently their patrol boats. However, the arrested men remained Japanese jails for 2 weeks until court proceedings were last.
After the arrests, the Chinese government repeatedly warned Japan to face consequences if the crew was not released immediately and unconditionally. It did not stop merely with warnings and initiated steps that could lead to economic repercussions.
The Chinese government cut-off ministerial level talks with Japan on coal and increasing commercial flights between the two countries. Thousands of Chinese tourists were pulled out of trips to Japan. Concerts of a Japan’s top boy band SMAP due to take place in Shanghai were cancelled by the Chinese organisers.
The Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Naotu Kan said that the prosecutors came to their judgment in compliance with their duty based on Japanese domestic law. In any case, China and Japan were important neighbors he added.
An expert on maritime issues was quoted by the CNN as saying the Japan and China used to try to keep a lid on nationalist sentiments whenever disputes aroused. This time the Japan government did not want to repeat the standard procedure because it now saw the territorial sovereignty as a vital economical issue as well as a national security issue.
Fishing in Troubled Waters
The US rulers cannot sleep peacefully if they could not find their hand, at least notional, in any dispute around the world. The islands in question lie in East China Sea that lies between Japan and China, the two Asian neighbors and the US has no way to worry about it. However, on Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the two sides to settle the issue before it had a long-term impact on the region.
It can be understood who stood behind the Japan deviating from its standard procedure of keeping a lid on national sentiments during the disputes of this kind. With the increasing economic and somewhat military, influence of China in the region, the US imperialist interests are subjected to checking. That is why the US is concerned, which has already its bases in Japan.