By Takashi Hirokawa and Daniel Ten Kate
(Adds details on previous dispute in fourth paragraph.)
Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s Coast Guard yesterday arrested the captain of a Chinese fishing boat for refusing inspection, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.
Japan informed the Chinese government, which has yet to react to the incident, Fujimura told reporters today in Tokyo. The arrest was made off waters near southwestern Japan’s Nagasaki prefecture, he said.
“Inspections by the relevant authorities are appropriate and based on our domestic laws,” Fujimura said. “We’re responding according to normal procedure and the Coast Guard and Foreign Ministry are collecting information.”
Past arrests have fueled tensions between Asia’s biggest economies over waters near uninhabited islands claimed by both countries in the East China Sea that contains undersea oil and gas reserves. Japan arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain 14 months ago and detained him for 17 days after colliding with two Coast Guard vessels.
The incident prompted authorities in Beijing to cut off ministerial talks. China also detained employees of construction company Fujita Corp. and curbed exports of rare earth metals necessary for Japan’s automobile and high-tech industries.
In August, Japan arrested two Chinese sea captains and released them the next day, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing an unidentified Chinese consul. Japan’s Coast Guard said it made the arrests for operating in an exclusive economic zone off the coast of Ishikawa prefecture without permission.
The two countries signed an agreement in 2008 to jointly develop natural gas fields near the disputed islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese that has yet to be implemented. Leaders of China and Japan will join the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama in Honolulu this week.