Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara reports that the crew of the fishing vessel accused of ramming a Japanese coast guard vessel in the Senkaku islands harpooned a member of the coast guard who was knocked overboard.
The revelation comes by way of Shintaro Ishihara, the prefectural governor of Tokyo, in remarks made in an interview on Fuji TV (from 2:15):
The remarks in translation, referring to video recordings made by the Japanese coast guard of the incident, and kept from public eyes first with the excuse that they were “evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation” and then after Japan folded with the excuse that “they would damage Sino-Japanese relations if made public”:
The information, well, it’s going to leak out from somewhere. […] I heard from someone with the government (casually) that the coast guard’s man was somehow knocked off the ship and fell in the sea, where the Chinese crew harpooned him.
It’s hearsay, but I’ve heard the same thing from several people. If that’s true, we have to know, and I think we should make the video public, to allow the Japanese public to form the right opinion.
Well, we don’t know if it is true or not. Having these rumours circulating is not good for either country, so it’d be best just to make it public. The video’s there after all.
Whilst Ishihara is a relatively credible mainstream politician, he is known for a variety of outspoken and controversial nationalist statements.
Some have also suggested that his decision to publicise the rumour is a clever bluff – if enough rumours of outrageous Chinese behaviour and a desperate cover-up by the Japanese government start to circulate, the government’s only way (assuming the rumours are without basis) to quash them will be to release the video. Not releasing it will only seem to confirm that its content is as bad as the rumours suggest.
If the accusations are true, they would of course further enrage the Japanese public, spell the end of the current government and completely discredit China.
In response to the story, this anonymous post was made on 2ch, seemingly with insider knowledge:
They’re in talks with Wikileaks. It seems the images will come out from the western media.
The coast guard ship came alongside, and was boarded. Suddenly it broke away. The coast guard left on-board was thrown overboard.
The ship changed course as if to run over the coast guard in the water. He was frantically trying to escape by swimming off, and the fishermen went as if to strike him with a harpoon. The coast guard ship stopped in an effort to pick up the sailor.
The fishing boat came up behind as if to run him down again, but their man was just able to scramble onto the rear of ship, and then the fishing boat rammed into their rear.
Obviously the veracity of this report is as yet unknown – 2ch boasts such a vast user base (including a number of politicians who have at times admitted to frequenting the site), that it is not impossible for the post to be genuine, although it could just as well be an attempt to spread further rumour.
So far, all that is known for certain is that the government is refusing to release the video – presumably either because it would destroy Sino-Japanese relations as they have said, or because it would bring down the government when the extent of the government’s appeasement of China became known.
Neither case seems an ample justification for hiding the facts from the people – a leak may only be a matter of time.