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Japan Deports 7 Island Protesters to China

March 27, 2004|From Associated Press

SHANGHAI — Japan deported seven Chinese demonstrators Friday, two days after they were detained for landing on a remote island claimed by both countries, triggering flag-burning protests in China and calls for their release.

The seven arrived Friday night at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport, said Yu Haize, a colleague of the activists who spoke with one by phone. Police escorted the seven from the airport, but it was unclear where they were taken.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had said authorities wanted to avoid aggravating relations between the two countries.

"While dealing with this in accordance with our laws, we had also made decisions from the broader standpoint of avoiding a negative impact on relations between Japan and China," Koizumi told reporters. "We instructed authorities to act on the basis of that fundamental policy."

Japanese authorities arrested the activists Wednesday for trespassing after they landed on the uninhabited island of Uotsuri. The seven said they wanted to draw attention to their country's claim to the island chain known as the Diaoyutai in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

Under Japanese law, police had two days to either deport the activists or turn them over to prosecutors, who could have continued the questioning for up to 21 days before deciding whether to bring charges for violating Japan's immigration laws.

China's Foreign Ministry said some of the activists received "inhumane treatment" while in detention, and expressed "strong indignation." The ministry statement did not elaborate on the alleged mistreatment but said China wished to resolve the dispute over the islands through negotiations.

Japan took control of the islands, located between Taiwan and Japan, when it defeated China in an 1895 war.

The United States had jurisdiction after World War II until 1972, when they were handed back to Japan.

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