Japan boat row tensions flare as China halts talks

CHINA yesterday suspended high-level exchanges with Japan and promised tough countermeasures after a Japanese court extended the detention of a Chinese captain whose trawler collided with two Japanese coastguard ships.

The spat between Asia’s two largest economies has flared since Japan arrested the captain, accusing him of deliberately striking a patrol ship and obstructing public officers near uninhabited islets in the East China Sea claimed by both sides.

“China demands that Japan immediately release the captain without any pre-conditions,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

China has suspended ministerial and provincial-level bilateral exchanges with Japan, halted talks on increasing flights between the two countries and postponed a meeting about coal with Japan, the report said.

The latest feud over the uninhabited isles – called the Diaoyu islands in China and the Senkaku islands in Japan – has stirred mutual distrust over sovereignty and control of potentially valuable oil and gas reserves.

The Nikkei business daily reported that Japan may start drilling near a gas field in disputed waters of the East China Sea if China does the same.