TOKYO – A Japanese coast guard officer is being questioned after he acknowledged having leaked a video of a collision between a patrol vessel and a Chinese fishing boat, a senior official told parliament Wednesday.
Japanese authorities have been trying to determine the source of the leak, which has raised concerns of a new flare-up in tensions as Japanese and Chinese leaders meet at a Pacific rim summit in Japan this weekend.
The video, posted on YouTube last Friday, shows the Sept. 7 collision near a group of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Japan and China. The collision and Japan's detention of the fishing boat captain sparked a sharp rift between the countries, with China suspending ministerial-level contacts.
The video has not been officially released, prompting criticism of government secrecy. An edited shorter version was shown to some legislators.
The coast guard officer could face charges related to violating secrecy laws, but could also become a public hero for sharing the video.
Coast guard chief Hisayasu Suzuki, responding to questioning by an opposition lawmaker in parliament, said the officer had told his captain that he posted the video on the Internet, but did not give other details, saying the case was still under investigation.
Japanese media say prosecutors have obtained the video from the Japan unit of Google, which owns YouTube. Authorities obtained a warrant and received information showing a strong possibility the video had been uploaded from an Internet cafe in Kobe, a port city in western Japan.
Google does not typically release such information about its users, but will do so if required by law, company spokesman Yoshito Funabashi said in Tokyo.
"Google will cooperate as required legally when authorities have a warrant," he said, declining to discuss any specifics of the case.
The video shows a boat hitting a Japanese coast guard vessel, while sirens wail in the background and the Japanese crew shouts orders for the boat to stop.
The disputed islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. Located 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of Taiwan, they are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are regularly occupied by nationalists from both sides.
After the collision, China demanded an apology and compensation, but Tokyo countered by demanding that Beijing pay for the damage.
China repeatedly summoned Japan's ambassador to complain and postponed talks on the joint development of undersea natural gas fields.