Could Criminalization Of The Mariner Lead To War?

Chinese Fisherman Japanese Police

Tensions have erupted in the East China Sea between two world superpowers; China and Japan, after a Chinese fishing boat collided with a Japanese navy ship on September 7th resulting in the arrest of the boat and her captain by Japanese officials. Bloomberg news tells us:

China told Japan to make a “wise political resolution” to release a fishing boat and its crew detained in disputed waters five days ago…

Japan said the captain was detained after his fishing boat collided with a Coast Guard vessel on Sept. 7. The case against the captain has been sent to prosecutors, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said three days ago, prompting China to warn that the issue may damage ties between the countries.

The collision took place in the East China Sea near islands claimed by both countries (The Diaoyu Islands). Sovereignty over the area, which is close to gas fields and a shipping lane, would give the holder rights to undersea oil reserves. Read More…

This is not the first time a Chinese fishing vessel has harassed naval ships working in the area. In March of last year gCaptain reported on the USNS Impeccable, a submarine tracking vessel, in the area. But while China and the United States have a mixed history since our support of democratic opponents to the country’s communist government during the cold war, the relationship between China and Japan is more intense not only because of their physical proximity to each other but also their bitter opposition during the second world war.

Best case scenario the Captain and the crew of the fishing vessel are released by Japan and normalized relations between the two countries continue. A worse scenario is increased tensions and a finacial war that slows down global recovery from the economic recession. But the worst case scenario could be deadly considering the recent and rapid growth of China’s navy.