Japan is to deport 14 Chinese activists after a group of them landed on an island claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo.
The protestors were detained by police on Wednesday after landing by boat on the small uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The Japanese say none of them will be prosecuted, a move which is likely to ease tension between Asia’s two largest and most powerful economies. Beijing has been demanding their release.
“It is extremely regrettable that they illegally smuggled themselves on to our island of Senkaku despite our repeated warnings not to”, said the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
The row over the islands is one of several which have complicated Japan’s relations with China and South Korea since the end of World War Two.
The islands lie close to what are believed to be rich gas reserves.
The activists have all been handed over to Japan’s immigration authorities and are expected to be back in China sometime on Friday.