|(Diaoyu update) Japan PM approves deportation
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda approved the deportation of 14 pro-China activists who sailed to the disputed Diaoyu islands, a government spokesman said Friday.
"The prime minister has received detailed reports on the illegal landing,'' said Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura. "He yesterday decided to approve of the related agencies' final conclusion to deport'' the activists, AFP reports.
Local media reported the deportations could happen as soon as Friday afternoon as Japan moves swiftly to end a potentially destablising row with China. Activists in Hong Kong said they were notified the 14 people will arriv in Hong Kong late afternoon.
All of those arrested after sailing to the island in the East China Sea have been transferred to immigration officials' custody, police said.
The group sailed from Hong Kong on Sunday. Five of them were arrested on one of the islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese on Wednesday, the 67th anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender.
Tokyo's action, which had been widely expected, stands in sharp contrast to the diplomatic calamity of 2010 when it held a Chinese trawlerman for two weeks after he rammed coastguard vessels.
Japan was widely criticised as having caved in to Chinese pressure and being forced into releasing the man after Beijing halted high level contacts and stymied trade.
In 2004, when a group of Chinese activists landed on a disputed island, the then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi ordered their deportation after two days.
The renewed dispute over the islands comes as Japan's relations with South Korea have also become increasingly frayed after President Lee Myung-Bak last week visited islets controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo.