Japan appeals for calm in fish row – Fishupdate.com

Japan appeals for calm in fish row Published:  21 September, 2010

JAPAN last night called on China to act prudently in the growing fishing dispute between the two countries.

The “cool it” appeal came as tension mounted over the continued  detention of a Chinese trawler skipper whose boat collided with two Japanese patrol boats while fishing in a disputed area in the East China Sea. The trawler and its 14 crew members have been released and are now back in China, but the arrest of the skipper, who is accused of ramming the patrol boats, is leading to a war of  words between the two countries.

Yesterday China severed certain high level diplomatic, cultural and trade links with Japan.  China has also  imposed harsh retaliatory sanctions  as a dispute over territorial incursions escalated into an international stand-off  that some observers fear could lead to a military stand-off between the former wartime adverseries at some point in the future.

Although the row has all the appearance of an  old style ‘cod war’ dispute, it is thought that a claim to more lucrative oil and gas reserves is the real reason for the growing tension on the basis  that who owns the fishing rights also owns the oil under the sea bed. The Senkaku and Diaoyu islands, which lie north of Taiwan and are claimed by both countries, have rich fishing grounds and probably  even richer gas and oil deposits. Japan has a further ten days to decide whether to charge the trawler skipper or set him free. If he is brought to trial  then tension  is almost certain to  increase further.