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Japan probes source of video leak in island row with China

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 8, 2010
Japan launched an investigation on Monday into the leak of a video on YouTube showing a tense maritime incident that sparked a row with China, and said it would ask Google for information on the source.

The government also confirmed the authenticity of the 44-minute video, which shows how a Chinese fishing trawler collided with two Japanese coastguard vessels in disputed waters in the East China Sea in early September.

The footage was taken by the Japanese coastguard and not released to the public for fear of further inflaming the bitter dispute with China, but it was uploaded on to YouTube on Friday.

After an in-house probe, the coastguard on Monday brought a criminal complaint in Tokyo against an unknown suspect, citing breaches of the national public service act and other laws.

The video, which has since been re-broadcast widely by Japanese television stations, shows the collision near a chain of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Japan and China.

Japan's subsequent arrest of the Chinese trawler captain sparked a barrage of protests from Beijing that continued after Japan released the skipper, sending relations plunging to their lowest point in years.

Japan's coastguard in a statement said the video leaked on the Internet was "almost identical" to the footage its officers had edited and submitted to prosecutors in the southern city of Naha in September.

Prosecutors have sought the help of Google, which runs the YouTube site, to find who uploaded the video, said Mitsuhiro Katsumaru, public security department chief at the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, Kyodo News reported.

Yoshi Funabashi, head of communications at Google Japan, said he could not comment on individual cases but said the company would "cooperate in the investigation within its legal scope only when a lawful warrant is issued."

"We cannot comment on whether we have already handed over materials" to Japanese authorities, he said in an email to AFP.

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