Japan rescues Chinese fishing boat amid tense relations

A handout picture made available by the Japan Coast Guard shows Japan Coast Guard rescue workers reaching out to the crew of a Chinese fishing boat that sunk following a collision with a Greek cargo vessel in the Senkaku (or Diaoyutai) Islands Image copyright EPA
Image caption The fishing boat sank after it collided with a Greece-flagged bulk carrier Anangel Courage, off the Senkaku, or Diaoyu islands

A sinking Chinese fishing boat was rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard near the East China Sea, amid an ongoing feud between both countries over disputed islands in the area.

The boat had collided with a 300m long Greece-flagged merchant ship, near a group of Japan-controlled islands.

The Japan Coast Guard rescued six Chinese crewmembers and are searching for eight others.

Beijing has "expressed appreciation" towards Tokyo for the rescue.

It comes after Japan's foreign minister warned earlier this week that ties with China were "significantly deteriorating".

The group of uninhabited, Japan-controlled islands, referred to as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, are the source of a long-running dispute between the two countries.

How did uninhabited islands sour China-Japan ties?

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Tokyo informed Beijing of the incident

The fishing boat sank just after 05:00 local time, according to the Japan Times, after it collided with the bulk carrier Anangel Courage, about 65km off Uotsuri Island.

A distress signal was issued by the cargo ship, with a coast guard dispatching a vessel and plane to the area, according to the Japanese coast guard.

China expressed its "appreciation" after it was informed of the incident, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this month, about 230 Chinese fishing boats and coast guard vessels entered waters near the islands.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida demanded they leave saying "the situation surrounding the Japan-China relationship is significantly deteriorating".

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