Japan calls for talks over detained Chinese fisherman

September 22nd, 2010 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Sep 22 (DPA) Japan hoped to hold talks with Beijing to defuse an escalating row over a Chinese fisherman detained near disputed islands, an official said Wednesday.
China has repeatedly called for the release of the boat captain arrested two weeks ago, while Tokyo was pressing charges against him for allegedly obstructing the Japanese Coast Guard in its duties.

The two governments “should hold a high-level meeting, if possible, urgently”, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku was quoted as saying by news reports.

Late Tuesday in New York, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated a demand for the “immediate and unconditional” release of the 41-year-old fisherman.

He was accused by Tokyo of deliberately colliding with Japanese Coast Guard vessels Sep 7 off the islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The islands, together with the oil-rich surrounding area, are claimed by both governments as well as by Taiwan.

China has called the proceedings against the suspect “illegal”, but Japan has insisted it is strictly following its laws.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, like Wen in New York for the UN General Assembly, said Tuesday he hoped to explain Tokyo’s handling of the case to the Chinese representatives if he had the chance.

“China is an important neighbouring country. We will have to firmly build a strategic reciprocal relationship,” he told reporters.

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