Japan Arrests Chinese Skipper After 4 1/2-Hour Chase

Posted November 7th, 2011 at 3:25 am (UTC-5)
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Japanese officials say they have the skipper of a Chinese fishing boat in custody after his vessel was halted in Japanese territorial waters on Sunday.

The officials say the skipper, Zhang Tianxiong, refused orders to stop for an inspection and led a coast guard vessel on a four-and-a-half-hour chase before being stopped when his 135-ton boat was rammed.

The arrest took place about 100 kilometers from the Goto islands, off the coast of southwestern Japan.

The incident recalls the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain last year, which sparked a months-long diplomatic rift between the two countries. But that arrest took place in waters also claimed by China, while the latest incident occurred in waters that are clearly under Japanese control.

China's foreign ministry had no immediate comment on the latest arrest. A Japanese government spokesman said the case will be handled through normal legal channels.

Japan dismissed all charges and released the captain arrested in last year's case after coming under intense pressure from Beijing. China canceled all high-level contacts with Tokyo and blocked shipments of vital rare-earth minerals to Japan following that arrest.