Sat, Sep 19, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Japan to release boat while skipper stays in detention

DISPUTE The owner of the boat that was impounded last weekend will sail to Ishigaki island today, where he will try to repair it so that it can be brought back

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Taiwanese sport fishing vessel that was detained by Japan for allegedly entering Japanese waters could return home today, but the boat’s skipper will remain in Japanese custody for a while longer.

Lin Chin-sung (林清松), the ship’s owner, said yesterday that he was notified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier in the day that the vessel and a crew member, Liu Ming-ching (劉明清), would be released today, but that the skipper, Wang Wei-hsin (王維新), would have to wait at least another six days.

Lin said he and a mechanic would leave by boat from Suao Harbor (蘇澳港) in the afternoon for waters off Ishigaki island to meet the impounded vessel after it is towed out by the Japanese authorities.

If the mechanic can fix the engine of the fishing vessel, then the two ships will return separately to Taiwan, he said.

Lin said Wang would remain in Ishigaki as the Japanese investigation into the matter continues. With a five-day holiday starting in Japan this weekend, Liu said he did not expect Wang to be released for at least six days.

According to Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration, the incident took place on Sunday evening when the fishing boat, registered in Tamsui (淡水), Taipei County, was intercepted by Japanese Maritime Safety Agency vessels in waters southwest of Ishigaki island and about 120 nautical miles (222km) due east of Suao (蘇澳), Yilan County.

The coast guard immediately sent one ship to the spot, followed later by another three, and four coast guard officers boarded the fishing boat to help settle the matter. Despite its efforts, the coast guard said, the boat, the nine sport fishermen on board, its skipper, a crewman and the four coast guard officers were taken to Ishigaki by the Japanese vessels after a standoff of more than 10 hours.

Following negotiations, Japan agreed to let the anglers and the coast guard officers go, but insisted that the skipper, the crew member and the vessel had to stay on Ishigaki for further investigation.

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