Five Chinese activists arrested by the Japanese police after landing on the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea were brought to Naha port in the Okinawa prefecture on Thursday.
The were part of a 14-member group from Hong Kong to islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Some jumped from their boat and swam to one island. Okinawa police arrested five of them who landed on the island, and refused to leave. The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) arrested the other nine who were on the boat.
The five Chinese activists got off a JCG patrol boat at the Naha port, shouting "Diaoyu Islands are Chinese territory," Japan and Chinese media reported.
Soon after arrival, they were taken away in vehicles to different locations for questioning. The five activists earlier told Japanese police that they had not illegally entered any Japanese territory, saying that "Diaoyu Islands are Chinese territory." Japanese authorities will later decide whether to send them to public prosecutors or deport them after examining the purpose of their landing, police said.
The nine other activists will be transferred to Naha, the reports quoted a JCG spokesman as saying.
China lodged solemn representations with Japan on the latter's "illegal detention" of Chinese nationals on the Diaoyu Islands.
Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying summoned Japanese Ambassador to Beijing Uichiro Niwa and lodged China's protest over the incident.
Fu reiterated China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and the affiliated islets, and demanded the Japanese side guarantee the safety of the Chinese citizens and free them immediately without any conditions.
Japan had also lodged a diplomatic protest with China and in Hong Kong over the Chinese trespassing into its territory, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.
Meanwhile, the United States urged the two countries to resolve the conflict peacefully. "Any kinds of provocations are not helpful in that regard," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
Tensions between China and Japan have been building up in recent months over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.Taiwan also claims the islet, which are controlled by Japan and form part of its Okinawa prefecture.
Largely uninhabited, they are close to strategically important shipping lanes, and have rich fishing grounds and possible hydrocarbon reserves.
by RTT Staff Writer
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