Partial video footage of the controversial incident between the Japanese Coast Guard and a Chinese fishing vessel, which has led to a souring in Japanese-Chinese relations, was leaked to the internet sometime between November 4th and 5th.
According to Japanese media reports, a series of six videos posted on YouTube, totaling around 44 minutes in length, are believe to detail a major portion of the incident in which a Chinese fishing vessel collided with Japanese Coast Guard ships twice in the waters near the islands known the Senkaku in Japanese, and Diaoyu in Chinese.
The Senkakus are a group of small, currently uninhabited, islands in the resource rich East Chinese Sea. They are under the effective control of Japan, but China has also claimed them as part of their own territory in recent years.
Japanese and Chinese tensions
On September 9th, Japanese authorities detained the Chinese vessel and its captain under Japanese national law. The incident was said to have been thoroughly record on video by the Coast Guard, and showed strong evidence that the collisions were intentional on the part of the Chinese.
China became particularly outraged when detention of the Chinese captain was extended, which led to official government complaints, outbreaks of anti-Japanese protests, and a de facto export ban on important Chinese-mined rare earth metals to Japan.
The sharp tensions gradually decreased after regional Japanese authorities in charge of the case decided to release the Chinese captain without charges on September 25th, but mutual resentment remained. Within Japan, video evidence of the collision, which had remained confidential, became a cause celebre among some politicians and nationalistic activists who felt it should have been released. They began demanding the video be made viewable to the public.
On November 1st, a small group of top Japanese government representatives viewed a six-minute selection of the collision incident, and general descriptions of the video’s content were quickly reported to the Japanese media by politicians after the viewing session.
But, while the government was still debating exactly how to handle the video, it was leaked on YouTube and spread. The Japanese media quickly picked up on the story, airing brief portions on to TV by the morning of November 5th.
Who leaked the video is not yet known, but a report from the Jiji Press stated that the likelihood of it coming from within the Coast Guard was high, and internal investigations were already underway. According to the Yomiuri, the Coast Guard has also indicated the video to be the actual footage.
As Japanese officials began to scramble to contain the damage, Japanese reporters began making numerous speculations as to why the video was leaked and what will result of it. Within Japan, it is believed the video will help support the Japanese stance in the issue, but will also create increasing problems for the current administration in regards to their poor handling of the entire situation. It is speculated that in China the video will either be regarded as a fake, as inconsequential, or even as heroic on the part of the Chinese captain, due to the Chinese stance that the incident happened in their own territory.
Regardless of exactly how the public on each side reacts, it will almost certainly continue to prolong bitterness between the two economical powerful nations.
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