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Japan Rejects Chinese Demands For Apology Over Boat Incident


A van carrying Zhan Qixiong, captain of a Chinese fishing boat, leaves from Ishigaki police station in Ishigaki on the southern Japanese island of Ishigaki on September 25.

A van carrying Zhan Qixiong, captain of a Chinese fishing boat, leaves from Ishigaki police station in Ishigaki on the southern Japanese island of Ishigaki on September 25.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says his country has "no intention" of apologizing for the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain, whose arrest has marked a new low in relations between the two countries.

Kan made the remarks today after China reiterated its demand for an apology from Japan.

"Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory," Kan said. "From that point of view, an apology or compensation is unthinkable. I have no intention at all of meeting the demand."

Chinese captain Zhan Qixiong was detained earlier this month after his fishing trawler collided with Japanese patrol ships near a chain of disputed islands -- known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and the Senkaku in Japanese. His trawler and crew were released.

China renewed its demand for an apology late on September 25, just hours after Tokyo first refused to apologize to China despite the captain's release

In a statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: "I wish to reaffirm that the Diaoyu Islands and subordinate islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. Japan's actions have seriously infringed upon China's territorial sovereignty and the personal rights of the Chinese people.

"Of course China has the right to demand that Japan apologize and make compensation. We hope that Japan takes concrete action to rebuild the strategic and mutually beneficial relations between China and Japan."

Captain Zhan Qixiong was detained earlier this month after his fishing trawler collided with Japanese patrol ships near a chain of disputed islands -- known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and the Senkaku in Japanese. His trawler and crew were released.

Zhan was flown home on September 25 to Fuzhou, in China's southeastern Fujian Province, where he received a hero's welcome. He told China Central Television that he was eager to return to the islands for more fishing.

Beijing had suspended ministerial-level contacts with Tokyo and postponed talks on developing disputed undersea gas fields in response to his arrest.

Tense Relations

But Zhan's release failed to defuse tensions with China, which immediately demanded an apology and compensation from Japan.

Japan's Foreign Ministry has rejected the request as "groundless."

Katsuya Okada, secretary-general of Japan's ruling Democratic Party and foreign minister until a September 17 cabinet reshuffle, said the islands were Japan's territory and "there was no fault in arresting" the Chinese captain.

"China showed the world what kind of a country it is," he added in televised remarks.

The dispute underscores lingering tensions between the two Asian powers, whose relations have been marred by territorial disputes over parts of the East China Sea and Chinese resentment of Japan's wartime occupation.

The row comes as Beijing investigates four Japanese nationals detained on suspicion of trespassing in a Chinese military zone. Japanese officials have denied any link with the Chinese captain's arrest.

compiled from agency reports
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