BEIJING Japanese authorities have detained a Chinese boat for fishing in Japanese waters, China's Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, even as the two countries moved to defuse tensions that flared last year over disputed islands.
The boat, registered in Zhejiang province in eastern China, was found in waters near Goto, in Nagasaki prefecture in southern Japan, Xinhua said. The captain was being taken ashore following questioning.
The incident comes as a Japanese envoy visited Beijing to soothe relations frayed in September, when Chinese took to the streets in sometimes violent protest against the Japanese government's purchase of disputed islets, part of a group known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, from their private owners.
In recent weeks Japanese military planes have scrambled numerous times against Chinese planes approaching airspace over the islands. Chinese planes have also shadowed Japanese planes elsewhere over the East China Sea.
The Chinese fishing fleet are ranging further and further offshore as fishing stocks near the Chinese mainland are depleted. Their presence in Japanese territory and in disputed waters is contributing to friction between the two Asian economic powerhouses, whose maritime borders are not defined.
In a similar case in late December, Japanese authorities stopped a fishing boat registered in the Chinese coastal province of Fujian, and detained its captain.
(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Alison Williams)