China Seizes Japanese Ship Over Debt ... From 1936

Move could harm business ties: Japan
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 21, 2014 11:31 AM CDT
In this Aug. 15, 2012 file photo, visitors line up to pray at Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial honoring World War II dead, in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
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(Newser) – China has seized a Japanese cargo ship, saying the move is tied to payment that's been missing since 1936. At that time, Japan leased a pair of Chinese ships which later sank, the BBC reports, citing Japan's Kyodo News. The "sudden seizure" of the ship, acknowledged by a Chinese court, is "extremely regrettable," says the top spokesman for Japan's government. "This is likely to have, in general, a detrimental effect on Japanese businesses working in China."

The Mitsui OSK Lines ship was seized at a Chinese port on Saturday, the Japan Times reports. The action follows a 2007 Shanghai court decision—upheld in 2012—saying Mitsui owed $30.5 million for the ships, the BBC reports. China's foreign ministry says the seizure isn't related to tensions over war reparations, Kyodo reports. But those tensions could be heightened after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today sent a religious offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, the AP reports. The memorial honors Japan's war dead, including war criminals, and China this weekend protested after another Japanese official visited the site, the BBC notes. (Read more Japan stories.)

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