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China seeks apology over detention

China has reiterated its demand for an apology from Japan over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain whose arrest plunged relations between the Asian neighbours to their lowest level in years.

A statement from the foreign ministry was issued after Tokyo refused earlier in the day to apologise to China following the release of the captain whose vessel collided with Japanese patrol boats near disputed islands this month.

"China of course has the right to demand Japan apologise and make compensation," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in the Chinese-language statement.

The diplomatic back-and-forth over the weekend demonstrated that nationalistic sentiments stirred up by the incident show few signs of dissipating.

Tensions already affected business ties between the nations' intertwined economies - the world's second and third largest.

Japanese authorities released the captain, Zhan Qixiong, early on Saturday, and he was flown home by chartered plane to Fuzhou in China's south-eastern Fujian province.

State broadcaster China Central Television showed Mr Zhan, 41, smiling and holding his fingers in a victory sign as he walked off the plane.

He was greeted by family members bearing flowers and a small group of government officials.

But hopes that his release would defuse mounting tensions were dashed when China promptly demanded an apology and compensation from Japan.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said the demands were groundless and "absolutely cannot be accepted".

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