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China summons Japan envoy again

China has summoned Japan’s ambassador for a fifth time to protest the seizing of a Chinese boat following a collision near the disputed Diaoy Islands in the East China Sea and continued holding of its captain.

In the latest summoning on Tuesday, Beijing demanded that Tokyo take immediate steps in releasing the boat’s captain.

China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin called in the Japanese Ambassador Uichiro Niwa to again complain over Japan’s continued “illegal detention” of the captain, said a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Liu “demanded that Japan immediately release and send back the Chinese boat captain.”

The dispute between the two Asian powers began last Tuesday, when the Chinese boat and two Japanese coast guard vessels collided in an area in East China Sea that is claimed by both sides. Tokyo suspects the Chinese vessel deliberately rammed the Japanese ships.

Japan arrested 14 crew members and the captain of the fishing boat.

Japan freed the boat’s crew members after a few days, but it said the captain would remain in Japanese custody until September 19 on suspicion of deliberately obstructing the work of officers on duty — a charge that carries up to three years imprisonment.

Beijing has already postponed talks with Tokyo on joint energy exploration in the East China Sea and scrapped a trip to Japan by a senior lawmaker in protest.

Japan on Tuesday called the situation “extremely regrettable” and has complained to China about the postponement of the energy talks.

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