Japan considers deporting Chinese activists, defusing feud: media
TOKYO | Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:57pm EDT
(Reuters) - Japan is considering deporting 14 Chinese activists arrested over their landing on a disputed island as soon as Friday in a move that could defuse a worsening feud between Tokyo and Beijing, Japanese media reported on Thursday.
The activists, seven of whom landed on Wednesday on the rocky, uninhabited isle in the East China Sea claimed by both nations, have been transferred to Okinawa for questioning by police on Thursday morning, public broadcaster NHK said.
If they did nothing else illegal, the government would deport the activists after questioning, it said.
The feud over a chain of islands, which lie near potentially rich gas reserves, is one of several disputes fraying Japan's ties with Asian neighbors China and South Korea decades after the end of World War Two.
Thursday was the 67th anniversary of the end of the war.
Japan refers to the islets, which lie between Taiwan and Okinawa, as the Senkaku Islands. China calls them the Diaoyu Islands.
Both Japan and China protested over the landing of the activists, who set out from Hong Kong on Sunday, with Tokyo lodging a protest with the Chinese ambassador and Beijing demanding their unconditional and immediate release.
The landing came on a day of regional diplomatic jousting, underscoring how history dogs Japan's ties with China and South Korea.
South Korea prompted an official protest from Japan after comments by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak which some saw as an insult to Japanese Emperor Akihito.
And in a move likely to add to the anger of Japan's neighbors, two Japanese cabinet ministers paid homage at a controversial Tokyo shrine for war dead. A separate row over rival claims by South Korea and Japan to other islands has also intensified.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Protesters chant slogans in front of security guards inside a building where the Japanese Consulate is located in Hong Kong August 15, 2012, after a group of Chinese activists were detained by Japanese authorities when they landed on an island chain disputed with Japan on Wednesday. A group of Chinese activists landed on the disputed uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, staking their claim of sovereignty despite warnings from the Japanese coastguard in a move bound to infuriate Tokyo. Chinese characters on the signs read, "Down with Japan's militarism" (bottom R, yellow) and "Sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands cannot be invaded" (top R, white and black).
A fishing boat carrying activists from the Hong Kong-based "Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands" sails near the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan or Diaoyu in China, in this handout photo taken by the Japan Coast Guard on August 15, 2012.
REUTERS/11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters-Japan Coast Guard/Handout
A Japan Coast Guard patrol ship sails around a fishing boat (R) carrying activists from the Hong Kong-based "Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands" near the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan or Diaoyu in China, in this handout photo taken by the Japan Coast Guard August 15, 2012.
Security guards look on where a drawing of a Japanese national flag and protest slogans are displayed by protesters from an office building where the Japanese Consulate is located in Hong Kong August 15, 2012.