China criticises Japan's move to seek compensation over 2010 ship collision

The Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel Mizuki, which was damaged during a collision with a Chinese fishing boat, is seen at Ishigaki port on the southern Japanese island of Ishigaki September 8, 2010.

BEIJING - China expressed anger on Wednesday over Japan's plan to seek compensation from the captain of a Chinese trawler that collided with a Japanese coastguard vessel in 2010 to spark a diplomatic crisis.

Japanese media cited Transport and Construction Minister Akihiro Ota as saying the government would sue for compensation of 14.29 million yen (S$176,600) in the Naha district court on the southern island of Okinawa.

Diplomatic and economic relations chilled sharply in 2010 after Japan arrested the captain of the boat that collided with one of its coastguard vessels near disputed islands in the East China Sea that are called the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan.

The incident sparked a nationalist frenzy in both countries and put a severe strain on diplomatic ties.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the islands belonged to China, and it was Japan that should be providing compensation.

"The boat-ramming incident in 2010 in waters near the Diaoyu islands was a serious invasion of China's territorial sovereignty by Japan, which damaged Chinese fishermen's legitimate rights," Hua told a daily news briefing.

"Japan's detention of Chinese fishermen and fishing boats, its investigation and any judicial measures are illegal and invalid," Hua added.

"We demand that Japan compensates, and apologises to, China for this incident. We urge Japan to cease its provocations and admit to, and correct, its errors."

Deteriorating relations between Beijing and Tokyo have been fuelled by the row over the chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Ships from both countries frequently shadow each other around the islets, raising fears of a clash.

Ties have worsened further since China's creation of an air defence identification zone over the East China Sea and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine honouring war criminals, among Japan's war dead.