Japan releases Chinese activists as territorial row simmers

August 17th, 2012 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Aug 17 (IANS) Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda Friday approved release of 14 Chinese activists, arrested by Japanese law enforcement officials for landing on the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China sea, Xinhua reported.

Seven of the 14, released Friday, were taken to Naha Airport of Okinawa, and would be flown back to China, said media reports quoting both government and immigration officials.

Another seven will be flown to Ishigaki Island where their vessel was detained. They will return by their vessel, a Chinese embassy spokesperson in Tokyo said.

The Chinese activists were initially arrested on suspicion of illegal entry to Japan Wednesday and held for violating Japan’s immigration control law and refugee recognition act, according to official law enforcement and government official’s statements.

Following the arrests, all of the activists were transferred to immigration officials’ custody.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had denounced the incident by the Chinese activists claiming it was “extremely regrettable”.

Noda had previously said that the captain of the fishing vessel carrying the activists ignoring the Japanese Coast Guard’s orders to alter his course and sail out of Japanese waters, was a “deplorable act “.

Fujimura, a government spokesperson for Japan, in a recent statement had said, “Japan owned the Senkaku Islands by law and had exercised ownership for over a century. He asserted that Japan’s sovereignty should not be questioned.”

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying has reiterated China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu and its affiliated islets.

Fu also urged Japan to “immediately and unconditionally” release its nationals, warning that any of Japan’s unilateral moves against Chinese nationals are both “illegal and invalid”, with China’s overall stance regarding sovereignty over the islands remaining unwavering.

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