Tokyo set to release detained activists

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An activist who landed on the Diaoyu Islands is taken into police custody in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, on Thursday. [Photo: Agencies via China Daily]

Japan will return 14 activists who were illegally detained after landing on an island belonging to China, according to Chinese diplomats in Japan.

Okinawa police arrested the Chinese nationals on suspicion of "illegal entry" after the Chinese arrived at the Diaoyu Islands via a Hong Kong fishing vessel on Wednesday to assert China's sovereignty to the islands.

All the 14 activists will be returned to Hong Kong no later than Friday, China Central Television quoted an unnamed Chinese diplomat as saying. The Japanese government has decided not to transfer the 14 Chinese activists to prosecutors, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang confirmed Thursday night that the first five Chinese nationals who had been sent to Naha, Okinawa are in good condition.

Qin said a working group from the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in Japan arrived in Okinawa at noon on Thursday and have contacted the families of the five to inform them of the detained Chinese nationals' situation.

Meanwhile, during a phone call to his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae on Thursday, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Zhijun asked the Japanese authorities to ensure the personal safety, dignity and fundamental rights of the activists.

The Hong Kong SAR government and its representative office in Tokyo also sent officials to join the working group from the embassy and consulates to visit the activists and lodged representations with the Japanese.

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