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Japan protests to China as fishing boat flees with inspectors aboard

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan has protested to China after a Chinese fishing boat believed to be operating illegally in its waters fled from the site for half a day with Japanese inspectors on board, the government said Thursday.

The trawling vessel was found on Nov. 5 operating in Japan's exclusive economic zone off the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima. While around 10 Fisheries Agency officials were inspecting the boat in the morning, it moved away into so-called halfway waters, where both Japanese and Chinese ships are allowed to operate.

The officials returned to their own vessel around 12 hours later, the government said.

"It's a vicious case. We lodged a protest with China through a diplomatic channel," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.

A Fisheries Agency official said, "It is unforgivable (for foreign vessels) to enter the Japanese fishing areas. We will continue to crack down on such acts."

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