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Japan PM rejects China's call for apology

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday rejected China's call for an apology and compensation for the detention of a Chinese trawlerman, a day after the captain returned home to public acclaim.

world Updated: Sep 26, 2010 17:30 IST

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday rejected China's call for an apology and compensation for the detention of a Chinese trawlerman, a day after the captain returned home to public acclaim.

The skipper was arrested on September 8 and accused of ramming Japanese patrol boats in waters near a disputed Japan-administered island chain -- known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China -- in the East China Sea.

Beijing said it was an "unlawful" detention and demanded "practical steps" to resolve the diplomatic row, one of the worst in years between the Asian giants.

But Kan told reporters in Tokyo: "The Senkaku islands are Japan's own territory. From this viewpoint, compensation
is unthinkable," according to Jiji Press.

The young centre-left government in Tokyo, which has faced accusations at home that it caved in to bullying by China, announced Friday the trawlerman would be freed but said the decision was made solely by prosecutors.

Prosecutors in Japan cited the deepening rift between Beijing and Tokyo in their decision to release 41-year-old skipper Zhan Qixiong, who arrived home yesterday on a government-chartered plane to a hero's welcome.

The same day, Beijing twice called for an apology and compensation from Tokyo over Zhan's detention. Tokyo dismissed
the calls as "totally groundless".