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Japan arrests Chinese activists over Diaoyu Islands issue on anniversary of Japan's WWII surrender

English.news.cn   2012-08-15 22:00:27            

TOKYO, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Police in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday arrested 14 Chinese activists including seven who landed on the Diaoyu Islands, located in the East China Sea.

According to the Japanese Coast Guard, seven activists landed on the Islands at around 5:50 p.m. local time. Okinawa police earlier arrested five as two had returned to their vessel.

The five were initially arrested on suspicion of illegal entry, local reports said.

"Two of the activists soon returned to the boat. The Coast Guard and the police questioned the remaining five on the island before arresting them on charges of illegally entering Japanese territory," Japan's national public broadcaster NHK said, confirming local media reports.

The Coast Guard said the fishing vessel was carrying 14 activists, with local police saying they came from areas in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Macao, with the boat departing from Hong Kong harbor on Sunday and entering the waters near the disputed islands on Wednesday at around 3:50 p.m., against warnings from the Japanese Coast Guard.

The vessel displayed a banner declaring that "China cannot give up an inch of its territory" and the occupants of the boat were heard singing the Chinese national anthem as they landed on the shore of the island, local media reports stated.

"We have achieved our goal successfully in claiming our sovereign rights to the world. The action exceeds our expectations and we've accomplished our objective faster than expected," local media quoted Chan Yu-nam, vice-chairman of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, the group behind Wednesday's landing, as saying.

The group's Chairman Chan Miu-tak said the purpose of the landing was to plant China's flag to assert its sovereignty over the uninhabited islands, but said the activists were under strict orders to avoid any physical confrontations with the Japanese side and to abort the mission should any incidents occur.

The Japanese Coast Guard deployed around nine vessels to follow the single fishing boat once the boat was within 30 kilometers of the isles, one of the activists from the committee was quoted by local press as telling reporters in Hong Kong on the phone.

The activist also said the Japanese Coast Guard used water cannons and sailed their vessels close to the fishing boat in bid to grant access and prevent the landing, according to local media reports.

The Japanese Coast Guard for its part, however, maintained it used no "forcible" measures over the landing and the local police in Okinawa stated that none of the arrested were injured.

Following the landing, Japan lodged a protest with China, according to its top government spokesman Osamu Fujimura. In addition, the Japanese government summoned Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to the Foreign Ministry to lodge an official complaint with Beijing.

The Chinese envoy said he hoped the actions would not negatively affect bilateral relations between the two countries, but Tokyo denounced the landing and the ignoring of its Coast Guard as "deplorable" with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stating that the detainees would be dealt with "in line with the law."

Immigration Department officials will be sent from Hong Kong to Japan to provide assistance to the activists, officials sources said Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday reiterated its requirement that Japan "refrain from taking any action that could endanger the safety of the lives and property of Chinese citizens going to the Diaoyu Islands."

China's Foreign Ministry also said Wednesday it will lodge a complaint with Japan following the arrest of the five activists and will "pay close attention to the developments of relevant issues," adding that China's position on the Diaoyu Islands issue remains "clear and resolute."

The Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands was founded in 1996 and comprises around 50 members, according to official sources.

Wednesday's landing by the 5 activists marks the first on the Diaoyu Islands by a Chinese faction since March 2004 and as many as six protest vessels have been officially prevented from heading to the islands by Chinese government officials since 2009.

The landing came on the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II, following Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces.

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Editor: Tang Danlu
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