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Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010

Diet panels view Senkaku run-in video, fault trawler

Lawmakers blame Chinese fishing boat for JCG collisions


Staff writer

Lawmakers who saw video footage Monday of the collisions between a Chinese trawler and two Japan Coast Guard cutters near the Senkaku Islands in early September said it proved the fishing boat rammed the Japanese vessels.

News photo
Select screening: Democratic Party of Japan members Masaharu Nakagawa (left) and Hiroshi Nakai (center) of the Lower House Budget Committee and Takeshi Maeda of the Upper House Budget Committee face reporters' questions Monday after viewing footage of collisions involving a Chinese trawler and two Japan Coast Guard cutters near the Senkaku Islands. KYODO PHOTO

The 7-minute video was shown to about 30 members of the Lower House and Upper House budget committees. All were banned from bringing in recording devices or cell phones for the viewing.

"I could clearly see that the fishing boat was crashing into" the JCG ships, said Hiroshi Nakai, chairman of the Lower House Budget Committee.

Yasuhisa Shiozaki of the Liberal Democratic Party pushed for the footage to be publicized, calling the trawler's actions "intentional and malicious."

Shiozaki demanded that the video be shown in its original form, which is said to run about two hours.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government, however, has no plan to release the footage to the public out of fear it will further damage Japan's strained diplomatic ties with Beijing.

"It is not a good idea to disclose it out of various concerns," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said. "The budget committees took the international environment into consideration" in limiting the audience.

According to several lawmakers who watched the video, the Chinese fishing boat crashed into the port quarter of the JCG patrol ship Yonakuni, which was trying to prevent it from deploying a fishing net.

The footage also showed coast guardsmen with bullhorns ordering the trawler, in Chinese, to cease operations, while a siren blared in the background, they said.

"The JCG ship was not moving. If a boat strikes a stopped ship, the one that caused the impact would be held responsible," said Your Party lawmaker Koichi Yamauchi.

In the second collision, the trawler struck the JCG cutter Mizuki's starboard side amidships and then tried to run away, they said.

The coast guard-shot video was submitted to Naha prosecutors as evidence after the Sept. 7 collisions took place near the inhabited islets.

The run-in led to the arrest of the Chinese skipper and extended detention, but prosecutors later released him out of diplomatic consideration for China amid escalating protests.

The Diet's decision to show the footage is considered one of the reasons why China canceled bilateral talks between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Hanoi on Friday.

The two leaders had a 10-minute informal chat Saturday, a day after the formal meeting was canceled.



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