The Chinese government made front-page headline news in Japan as it upped the ante on the Japanese government’s refusal to give up the fishing boat captain without a trial, announcing its unilateral suspension of ministerial-level exchanges, suspension of bilateral consultations on increasing airline routes between Japan and China, and postponement of the Japan-China Comprehensive Conference concerning Coal. It has already postponed scheduled high-level talks on the joint development of the East China gas fields and the dispatch of a National People’s Congress delegation.
By going public with these measures and accompanying them with belligerent language, the Chinese government is making it even more impractical politically for the Japanese government to coax the Public Prosecutors Office to give up the fishing boat captain without taking the criminal case to court, as it is in the PPO’s discretion to do (somewhat adulterated by a legal amendment that allows the Committee of Inquest for Prosecution the authority to force prosecution against the PPO’s will, but this is irrelevant for all practical purposes in this case).
The saving grace here is that the Chinese side is not taking any action to challenge the effective control itself of the territorial waters by the Japanese government. It actually appears to be keeping Chinese vessels from launching expeditions to the Senkakus. Also significantly, as Sun Bin notes in our ongoing dialogue, criminal prosecution sets precedence of a legal shading, an undesirable development from the Chinese perspective, at least in the court of public opinion.