Man's home searched over Japan-China video leak

The September 7 collision near islands claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing in the East China Sea sparked nationalistic fervour on both sides. It was worried the leak of the video could lead to a fresh flare-up in tensions at a summit of world leaders in Japan this weekend.

The footage had been kept secret, other than an edited version shown to some legislators, angering some in Japan who thought it may be evidence of Chinese wrongdoing. The video shows the fishing boat ramming into a Japanese ship amid screams and wailing sirens. It popped up on YouTube last week.

The unnamed officer acknowledged yesterday he was responsible for the leak, reportedly telling police, "People have the right to see the video."

The officer has been questioned by police since. Several police officers were shown on nationally televised news walking into the man's home today, though police declined to elaborate on the search.

The story has gripped Japan, topping TV news programmes and dominating front-pages of national newspapers. Public opinion had already been torn over the government's handling of the collision and relations with China.

China appeared to shrug off the video fiasco in Japan.

"We have taken note of the relevant report. China does not want to see any more disturbances to China-Japan relations because of the video issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.

Japanese media have identified the officer as a 43-year-old male who acknowledged posting the video from a cafe in Kobe, central Japan.

If charged and convicted of violating laws requiring secrecy by public servants, he could face up to a year in prison or a USD 6,000 fine.

Yoshito Sengoku, the top government spokesman, has said the penalty is too lenient and the law should be revised.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported the officer acted alone, using the YouTube account "sengoku38" in a sarcastic reference to the government spokesman.

Although the original upload has been removed, copies on YouTube are attracting tens of thousands of views and a flood of comments.

Opinion has been divided on whether the officer merely did the right thing or is a traitor. The coast guard has been deluged with more than 300 calls pleading he be spared punishment, local media reports say. The coast guard declined comment.

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