Gunboat Economics: China Seizes Japanese Ship — As Payment for Pre-World War II DebtPosted: April 21, 2014
(AFP) — Tokyo warned Monday that the seizure of a Japanese ship in Shanghai over pre-war debts threatened ties with China and could undermine the very basis of their diplomatic relationship.
Authorities in Shanghai seized the large freight vessel in a dispute over what the Chinese side says are unpaid bills relating to the 1930s, when Japan occupied large swathes of China.
The move is the latest to illustrate the bitter enmity at the heart of Tokyo-Beijing ties, with the two sides embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of a small archipelago and snapping at each other over differing interpretations of history.
Shanghai Maritime Court said Saturday it had seized “the vessel Baosteel Emotion owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines… for enforcement of an effective judgement” made in December 2007.
“The arrested vessel will be dealt with by the law if Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. still refuses to perform its obligations,” the court said.
Chinese and Hong Kong media said the seizure was related to a verdict by a court in Shanghai that said Mitsui must pay about 2.9 billion yen ($28 million) in relation to the leasing of two ships nearly 80 years ago.
Reports said that in 1936, Mitsui’s predecessor Daido Shipping Co. rented two ships on a one-year contract from Zhongwei Shipping Co.
However, the ships were commandeered by the Imperial Japanese Navy and were sunk during World War II, reports said.
A compensation suit was brought against Mitsui by the descendants of the founder of Zhongwei Shipping, and in 2007 a Shanghai court ordered Mitsui to pay about 2.9 billion yen in compensation.
Mitsui appealed against the decision but in December 2010 the Supreme People’s Court turned down their petition for the case to be retried.
Mitsui has argued that it is not liable to pay compensation given that the ships which Daido rented were requisitioned by the Japanese military during the war, according to Japan’s Kyodo News.
On Monday Japan’s chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the seizure undermined the 1972 joint communique that normalised ties between Japan and China, in which Beijing agreed to renounce “its demand for war reparation from Japan”.
“It could also intimidate Japanese companies doing business in China as a whole and hence Japan is deeply worried and strongly expects China to take appropriate measures,” he said…(read more)
From BBC News Asia:
China’s seizure of a Japanese cargo ship over a pre-war debt could hit business ties, Japan’s top government spokesman has warned.
Shanghai Maritime Court said it had seized the Baosteel Emotion, owned by Mitsui OSK Lines, on Saturday.
It said the seizure related to unpaid compensation for two Chinese ships leased in 1936.
The Chinese ships were later used by the Japanese army and sank at sea, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said.
“The Japanese government considers the sudden seizure of this company’s ship extremely regrettable,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday.
“This is likely to have, in general, a detrimental effect on Japanese businesses working in China.”
The owners of the shipping company, identified by Kyodo as Zhongwei Shipping, sought compensation after World War Two and the case was reopened at a Shanghai court in 1988, China’s Global Times said.
The court ruled in 2007 that Mitsui had to pay 190 million yuan ($30.5m, £18m) as compensation for the two ships leased to Daido, a firm later part of Mitsui, Global Times and Kyodo said.
Mitsui appealed against the decision, but it was upheld in 2012, Kyodo said.
Kyodo said this appeared to be the first time that a Japanese company asset had been confiscated as war-linked compensation….(read more)
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