10/22/2012, 00.00
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Japanese navy rescues a Chinese cargo, 64 crew members safe

The rescue took place at a time of tension between Tokyo and Beijing, over disputed islands in the East China Sea. The boat caught fire, perhaps an engine malfunction and three crew were wounded. Meanwhile, exports of the Rising Sun collapse: down 10.3% compared to September 2011.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Japanese coast guard rescued a Chinese cargo on fire, perhaps due to an engine explosion, saving the lives of all 64 crew members of the vessel flying the flag of Beijing. The rescue operation took place in the time of tension between China and Japan, caught up in a territorial dispute concerning the archipelago of the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands, a group of islets in the East China Sea. It has created a situation of tension between the two nations, which has hit the economy of the Rising Sun hard in particular in the field of exports to foreign countries (and China in particular).

The rescue took place yesterday, but the emergency began on the evening of October 20 when the Taiwan authorities sounded the alarm for a fire on board the Ming Yang, a Chinese cargo ship of more than 12 thousand tons. The boat was located about 150 km from the coast of Okinawa, in the south-east. The rescue efforts of the Japanese Coast Guard started at 2:30 yesterday morning and ended after just over an hour. All the 64 crew members of Chinese nationality were saved, with three of them having suffered minor injuries.

The rescue took place in a time of great tension between Tokyo and Beijing, both in contention over the Diaoyu Islands / Senkaku. The Chinese navy recently launched military exercises to practice  "the liberation of Chinese territories conquered by foreign powers."

The tensions caused strong repercussions in the economy and trade, especially for Japan. In September, Japanese exports to China experienced a dramatic fall over the same period of 2011, while touching the lowest point in 30 years. According to data released by the Ministry of Finance, the foreign exports fell by 10.3%, while those to China have posted a negative index of 14.1% compared to September 2011. The monthly trade deficit of 558.6 billion Japanese yen (just over  7 billion dollars), a figure of opposite sign compared to the same period last year when Tokyo showed a surplus of around 288 billion yen.


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