Japan launched an investigation yesterday into the leak of a video on YouTube showing a tense maritime incident that sparked a row with China and said it would ask Google for information on the source.
The government also confirmed the authenticity of the 44-minute video, which shows how a Chinese fishing trawler collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels in disputed waters in the East China Sea in early September.
The footage was taken by the coast guard and not released to the public for fear of further inflaming the bitter dispute with China, but it was uploaded to YouTube on Friday.
After an in-house probe, the coast guard yesterday brought a criminal complaint in Tokyo against an unknown suspect, citing breaches of the national public service act and other laws.
The video, which has since been rebroadcast widely by Japanese television stations, shows the collision near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in the East China Sea claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.
Japan’s subsequent arrest of the Chinese trawler captain sparked a barrage of protests from Beijing that continued after Japan released the skipper, sending relations plunging to their lowest point in years.
The coast guard in a statement said the video leaked on the Internet was “almost identical” to the footage its officers had edited and submitted to prosecutors in the southern city of Naha in September.
Prosecutors have sought the help of Google, which runs the YouTube site, to find who uploaded the video, said Mitsuhiro Katsumaru, public security department chief at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, Kyodo News reported.
Yoshi Funabashi, head of communications at Google Japan, said he could not comment on individual cases, but said the company would “cooperate in the investigation within its legal scope only when a lawful warrant is issued.”
“We cannot comment on whether we have already handed over materials” to Japanese authorities, he said in an e-mail.
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