In the latest escalation of the five-day row, Japan‘s ambassador was summoned after midnight for the fourth time to hear Chinese demands to release the boat’s captain and warnings over any further political “misjudgments” that could damage relations.
In a symbolic step that raised the diplomatic temperature to another level, the demands were issued by Dai Bingguo, China‘s highest-ranking official on international affairs and a member of China’s State Council, or cabinet.
He solemnly stated the Chinese government’s major concerns and urged Japan not to misjudge the circumstances and to make the wise political choice of immediately returning the Chinese fishermen and their boat,” Xinhua, the state news agency, reported.
However Japan gave no indication it was preparing to back down over the arrest in the East China Sea on Tuesday after the Chinese boat twice hit Japanese coastguard vessels as they tried to order the trawler to cease operations.
“We have maintained the position that we will solemnly handle the case in strict accordance with domestic law”, the Japanese ambassador said.
Meanwhile in Tokyo, officials from the Chinese Embassy in Japan have visited the Chinese fishermen illegally detained by the Japanese authorities last week in the East China Sea.
The Chinese government and people care very much about their living and security conditions in captivity, officials from the embassy in Tokyo and the consulate general in Fukuoka told the crew members.