Japanese prosecutors indicted a Chinese fishing boat skipper for fishing illegally in Japanese waters, a local official said Friday. The arrest is the latest in a long series of events surrounding the tense Chinese-Japanese maritime relations.
Zhong Jinyin was arrested in Japanese waters Dec. 20, the second arrest in the area in less than two months. Since he was clearly in Japanese waters, this case should be pretty cut-and-dry. But such cases have led to diplomatic nightmares in the past, such as when Japan arrested a Chinese fisherman near disputed islands in the East China Sea last year.
The two Asian neighbors are still recovering from the fallout from last year’s incident, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda agreed to set up a high-level meeting with China on maritime affairs in order to reduce tensions earlier this week in a meeting with China’s National People’s Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo.
Despite the agreement for more cooperation, both countries’ stances have become more confrontational in recent days.
Nobuteru Ishihara, Secretary General of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and son of controversial Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, said Japan should consider building a military base on islands disputed with China during a visit to Washington earlier this month.
Days later, China sent its 3000-ton Haijian 50 to patrol the disputed waters.
Japan also finalized a $4.7 billion deal last week to buy 42 of Lockheed Martin’s F-35A fighter jets to replace its aging fleet of F-4s. Concerns of increasing Chinese assertiveness was undoubtedly factored in Japan’s decision to buy the fighter jets.
During Noda’s visit to China, the two countries reached a deal that will encourage the use of the Chinese yuan and Japanese yen in bilateral trade, instead of the U.S. dollar. Ideally this should increase financial ties between the two countries and ease maritime tensions as well as others.