Japan apologises for sinking Taiwanese boat

June 20th, 2008 - 8:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, June 20 (DPA) Japan Friday officially apologised to a Taiwanese captain for sinking his boat June 10 near the disputed Diaoyu Islands, in a bid to end a row with Taiwan that has created tension in the region. “I am writing this letter to express my sincere apology and hope to discuss with you about the compensation issue as soon as possible,” said Hitoshi Funamachi, Japan’s deputy de facto ambassador in Taipei, reading a letter written by Hideo Nasu, chief of Japanese coastguard operations in the East China Sea.

Funamachi personally handed the letter to Ho Hung-yi, whose boat sank in the disputed waters after being rammed by a Japanese coast guard vessel.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Funamachi represented goodwill from Japan, which would help settle the dispute over the sinking incident that has caused concern from the US.

The ministry said it was willing to work to improve bilateral relations.

Taiwan and Japan do not have official relations.

Taiwan, Japan and China all claim sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, known as Senkakus in Japanese.

The sinking provoked angry protests by Taiwanese.

Under the pressure of parliamentarians, who asked to send a warship to declare Taiwan’s claim over the Diaoyus, Taiwanese Premier Liu Chao-shiuan said he would not rule out a war with Japan.

Washington called for calm between Taipei and Tokyo.

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