Updated: 04/22/2014 15:20 | By Agence France-Presse

Japan lodges protest against China ship seizure

Tokyo said Tuesday it has lodged a formal protest against China's seizure of a Japanese ship over unpaid bills dating back to the 1930s, in the latest row to underscore the bitter enmity between the Asian giants.


Japan lodges protest against China ship seizure

Japanese shipping giant Mitsui O.S.K. Lines' cargo ship "Baosteel Emotion" is shown anchored at a port in China's Zhejiang province, April 21, 2014

Authorities in Shanghai said Saturday they had impounded the large freight vessel owned by Japanese shipping giant Mitsui O.S.K. Lines in a dispute over what the Chinese side says is money owed from the 1930s, when Japan occupied large swathes of its neighbour.

The two sides are embroiled in a territorial dispute over a small archipelago, as well as snapping at each other over differing interpretations of history.

On Tuesday, some Japanese media suggested the ship's seizure was meant to underline Beijing's assertiveness ahead of US President Barack Obama's arrival in Tokyo on Wednesday, part of an Asian tour aimed at reinforcing Washington's regional security alliances.

"We have told the Chinese side through diplomatic channels that we regret its seizure of the vessel...We demand China take appropriate measures," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government's top spokesman, told reporters in Tokyo.

The ruling could "intimidate Japanese companies doing business in China", Suga said, adding that Japan was "deeply worried".

Suga said on Monday that the ship's seizure undermines a 1972 joint communique that normalised ties between Japan and China, in which Beijing agreed to renounce "its demand for war reparations from Japan".

China replied that the civil case had "nothing to do" with war reparations.

On Saturday, the Shanghai Maritime Court said it had seized the vessel "for enforcement of an effective judgement" made in December 2007.

Chinese and Hong Kong media said the seizure was related to a verdict by a court in Shanghai that said Mitsui must pay around 2.9 billion yen ($28 million) in relation to the leasing of two ships nearly 80 years ago.

Reports said that in 1936, Mitsui's predecessor Daido Shipping Co. rented two ships on a one-year contract from Zhongwei Shipping Co.

The ships were reportedly commandeered by the Imperial Japanese Navy and were sunk during World War II.

A compensation suit was brought against Mitsui by the descendants of the founder of Zhongwei Shipping, and in 2007 a Shanghai court ordered Mitsui to pay compensation. China's Supreme People's Court later rejected the Japanese firm's appeal against the judgment.

The ship seizure comes as a set of lawsuits related to wartime forced labour have also been filed in China against Japanese corporations.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。