Japan to free Chinese fishing boat captain

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Japan to free Chinese fishing boat captain

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Japan is to free a Chinese fishing boat captain, whose arrest sparked the most serious diplomatic crisis between the countries in years.

Zhan Qixiong had been accused of deliberately ramming two Japanese coast guard ships in disputed waters in the East China sea.

There’ve also been reports that four Japanese nationals have been arrested by Chinese authorities on suspicion of illegally entering a military zone.

China reacted furiously to the captain’s arrest, issuing official protests and cancelling exchanges.
Japanese prosecutors now say the man had no criminal record in Japan and did not intend to damage the patrol boats.

There’ve also been concerns that the row has been threatening to damage the two countries’ economies. Japanese businesses have complained that China has banned metal exports to Japan.

The economy minister in Tokyo, Akihiro Ohata, said there was no official Chinese embargo, but officials were checking reports from Japanese trading firms to find out what was happening. He added that a prolonged ban would have a huge impact.

The Japanese embassy in Beijing confirmed the detention of four of its nationals in China. They’re thought to be employees of a construction company.

It’s not known when the fishing boat captain will be freed. The US has urged both countries to resolve the dispute to avoid lasting damage in the region.