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You're reading: Japan considers deporting Chinese activists, defusing feud

TOKYO - Japan is considering deporting 14 Chinese activists arrested over their landing on a disputed island as soon as Friday in a move that could defuse a worsening feud between Tokyo and Beijing, Japanese media reported on Thursday.

The activists, seven of whom landed on Wednesday on the
rocky, uninhabited isle in the East China Sea claimed by both
nations, have been transferred to Okinawa for questioning by
police on Thursday morning, public broadcaster NHK said.

If they did nothing else illegal, the government would
deport the activists after questioning, it said.

The feud over a chain of islands, which lie near potentially
rich gas reserves, is one of several disputes fraying Japan’s
ties with Asian neighbours China and South Korea decades after
the end of World War Two.

Thursday was the 67th anniversary of the end of the war.

Japan refers to the islets, which lie between Taiwan and
Okinawa, as the Senkaku Islands. China calls them the Diaoyu
Islands.

Both Japan and China protested over the landing of the
activists, who set out from Hong Kong on Sunday, with Tokyo
lodging a protest with the Chinese ambassador and Beijing
demanding their unconditional and immediate
release.

The landing came on a day of regional diplomatic jousting,
underscoring how history dogs Japan’s ties with China and South
Korea.

South Korea prompted an official protest from Japan after
comments by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak which some saw
as an insult to Japanese Emperor Akihito.

And in a move likely to add to the anger of Japan’s
neighbours, two Japanese cabinet ministers paid homage at a
controversial Tokyo shrine for war dead. A separate row over
rival claims by South Korea and Japan to other islands has also
intensified.

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