Japan has urged China to deal with Chinese fishermen who are poaching red coral in Japanese waters.
The call comes as the countries discuss the possiblity of a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping at next week’s Apec summit.
Tokyo says more than 200 Chinese fishing boats have been poaching the coral, which is used in jewellery, off the Ogasawara and Izu island chains, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.
Five Chinese boat captains have been arrested over the past month. The Japanese government said it had lodged multiple protests with Beijing since the fisherman were first spotted more than a month ago.
Fumio Kishida, Japan’s foreign minister, called on China on Tuesday to tackle the issue, the latest threat to relations between the neighbors.
Xi and Abe have yet to meet because of a range of disputes, including over the disputed Diaoyu Islands – which Japan also claims and calls the Senkaku Islands – in the East China Sea and Abe’s decision to visit Yasukuni, a shrine where World War II criminals are among those commemorated, last December. The Ogasawara and Izu islands are not part of the disputes.
Kishida said Japan recognised that China understood the serious nature of the coral issue but that Tokyo wanted Beijing to take “effective measures” to stop the activity. The previous day, China’s foreign ministry said Beijing was enhancing measures to prevent the illegal poaching.
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