Video shot from Japan Coast Guard vessels during the incident with the Chinese fishing trawler Minjinyu 5179 have been leaked onto YouTube. The video was released to the Diet on October 28th and screened by lawmakers on the 2nd. One of the lawmakers said:

“It was a blatant act of obstructing officers from performing their duties,” said Norihisa Tamura, a lower house member of the Liberal Democratic Party. “If you see it, you’ll think arresting [the captain] was logical and no surprise.”

Here’s part 1 of the video, courtesy Japan Probe.

The Chinese fishing trawler clearly makes a hard turn to port putting in on a collision course with the Japan Coast Guard vessel. It’s hard to conclude that the trawler captain was doing anything other than intentionally ramming.

This second video, also found by Japan Probe, seems to have been taken from a distance of about a quarter mile.

The logical thing for the fishing trawler to do when confronted with larger, armed ships is to leave the area. Why would a Chinese fishing boat captain intentionally ram a Japanese Coast Guard ship and possibly lose his livelihood were the boat permanently confiscated? Why risk your ship, your life, and the life of your crew hundreds of miles from the mainland by ramming a much larger vessel? Where does he benefit from that?

I don’t like conspiracy theories, but China is proving to have a lack of credibility on anything to do with this situation, and frankly at this point if China says one thing, the exact opposite is probably worth investigation. As blog Ampontan pointed out in September, Gordon Chang, a frequent guest on the John Batchelor show, said that he had heard from two sources in Japan’s Ministry of Defense that the Chinese fishing boat captain was actually a People’s Liberation Army Navy captain. Chang was attempting to get corroboration from a third source when he appeared on the show.

I actually saw quite a bit of footage of the captain, Zhan Qixiong, on footage from Chinese television rebroadcast on Japanese TV. I was struck by two things:

- Zhan Qixiong does not look like a fishing boat captain. I’ve seen a lot of fishing boat captains in my day, not including the cast of The World’s Deadliest Catch, and they’re always grizzled and weathered. The work and the elements will do that to you. They’re also scruffy and far from clean cut. Zhan Qixiong, on the other hand, is smooth-faced, youngish, and as fit as…a military officer.

- Zhan Qixiong does not walk like your typical Asian civilian. On television, he walks completely differently than the other Chinese surrounding him. He walks with his shoulders squared, perfectly straight, and chest out…like, say, a military officer.

Here, watch for yourself. The bearing isn’t as obvious, but it’s clear Zhan Qixiong looks more like an astronaut than a fisherman.

Since the Chinese government would denounce it as patently untrue, it’s worth asking: did China deliberately manufacture the fishing trawler incident in order to highlight China’s claims to the East China Sea?

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch