Three Japanese Nationals Released by China

Chinese state media say three Japanese nationals suspected of illegally entering a Chinese military installation have been released, while a fourth person remains in custody. The four Japanese citizens were detained last week in northern Hebei province. The employees of Japanese-based Fujita construction company were in China on a project to dispose of chemical weapons abandoned by Japanese military forces after World War Two.

Xinhua says the three people released Thursday admitted to violating Chinese law and expressed remorse for their actions. But it says the fourth Japanese national, identified as Sada Takahashi, is still under investigation for illegally filming military sites. Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara confirmed that three of the four had been released during a parliamentary session. He demanded Beijing reach a “swift resolution” in Takahashi’s case.

The four Japanese nationals were detained amid a bitter diplomatic dispute between Tokyo and Beijing triggered by a naval incident in the East China Sea. Earlier this month, a Chinese fishing vessel collided with two Japanese patrol boats near islands claimed by both Japan and China. The captain of the vessel was detained until last Saturday.

Japan accused China of imposing a “de facto” ban on shipments of specialized minerals to Tokyo in response to the detention of the Chinese fishing boat captain. The rare earth minerals are essential to the manufacture of computer parts, hybrid cars and other items vital to Japan’s high-tech economy. China produces almost all of the world’s rare earths. Traders said the rare earth exports resumed Wednesday – Voanews