Japan freed 14 crew members of a Chinese ship after their vessel collided with two Japanese patrol boats near disputed southern islets, but still holds the captain in custody.
The Japanese coast guard said today that authorities finished questioning the 14 men over the collision last week near the disputed islands in the East China Sea and are now free to leave.
They are scheduled to return home on a Chinese plane that has just arrived in Japan to pick them up.
Their release comes as China stepped up pressure on Japan, demanding their immediate release.
China said the confrontation could damage its relations with Japan, underlining the sensitivity of the territorial dispute in the area.