Japan settles amicably over SKorean boat

June 2, 2005 at 5:57 AM
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TOKYO, June 2 (UPI) -- Japan decided to react calmly over an incident with a South Korean fishing boat suspected of illegally operating in Japan's economic waters.

A Japan Coast Guard patrol boat discovered the South Korean fishing ship off Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, in Japan's economic waters at around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday and two officials boarded the vessel.

However, the fishing boat abruptly fled with the officials onboard and a chase ensued for more than 2 hours. After the South Korean boat reached South Korean economic waters, it stopped and the JCG retrieved its two officials, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Thursday.

The South Korean side initially refused to hand over the captain, saying that there was no evidence of the boat operating illegally but later admitted that the fishing boat entered Japan's economic waters and fled. Seoul reportedly plans to pay $4,600 in fines.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said on Thursday that Tokyo and Seoul should settle the incident peacefully.

"The Japan Coast Guard and (South Korea's) maritime police have cooperated with each other in the past to maintain safety at sea," Hosoda said. "I expect this to be settled peacefully."

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