Five activists from the Hong Kong-based ‘Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands’ have been detained by Japanese authorities after landing on the group of islands claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan earlier today.
The five were part of a group of seven activists — five from Hong Kong, one from Macau and another from the mainland — aboard the Bao Diao II, or “Defend the Diaoyu II”, which arrived at the islands at 5.30pm today.
The Hong Kong fishing vessel was to have been joined by one from Xiamen on the mainland and another from Taiwan, but eventually made its way to the disputed islands alone as its counterparts backed out due to pressure from their respective governments.
Japanese coastguard vessels followed the fishing vessel closely, firing water cannons at it, but the activists jumped into the water and swam to shore. Two of the activists later swam back to their boat as the remaining five were arrested for “violation of the immigration control law on Uotsurijima” according to a spokesperson with the Okinawan prefectural police.
Xinhua reports that the Foreign Ministry is now “contacting the Japanese side to lodge representations over the detention of five Chinese nationals on the Diaoyu Islands.”
Meanwhile, a group of South Koreans led by a rock star by the name of Kim Jang-hoon, arrived at another disputed pile of rocks, known as the Liancourt Rocks in English, the Dokdo Islands to the Koreans and Takeshima to the Japanese. The relay swim took three days in all, according to the Yonhap News Agency:
Two members of the team arrived at Dokdo around 7:30 a.m., 48 and a half hours after the team departed the southeastern port of Jukbyeon, in a relay swimming project to celebrate the 67th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.
The total distance covered in the relay swimming was about 220 kilometers.
They were accompanied by a small flotilla of escort boats. The main boat carrying the team, which also includes actor Song Il-kook and dozens of athletic college students, had planned to enter the port at Dokdo, but could not do so because of high waves.
“It would have been better if all of us entered Dokdo together,” Kim said. “But I think this is meaningful in that we’ve shown that our young people are interested in Dokdo. The three-day journey was successful enough and I feel happy about that.”
In another move bound to inflame both the Chinese and the Koreans, two Japanese cabinet ministers from the two largest political parties in Japan made a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial memorial dedicated to the 2.5 million Japanese soldiers and civilians who died during World War II.
Public safety minister Jun Matsubara and transport minister Yuichiro Hata both insisted that they were at the shrine as “private individuals” and that the visits were not official.
While Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda did not make the trip to Yasukuni, he visited the nearby Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery. At the Nippon Budokan ceremony for the Japanese war dead, Noda said, “During the last war, Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. I hereby express my feelings of profound remorse and sincere mourning for the victims of the war and their bereaved family members.”
Last week, Noda recalled his ambassador to South Korea after President Lee Myung-bak made a visit to the Liancourt Rocks.