Japan says Israeli vessel collided with fishing boat

According to Japan's coast guard a Japanese fishing boat that capsized last week, killing seven of its crew, had collided with an Israeli container ship, and that Japan would ask Israel to investigate.

South Korea's coast guard examined the Israeli-registered Zim Asia while it was docked in the South Korean port of Busan on Thursday, and confirmed there was damage to the port - or left - side of the ship's hull, as well as paint traces that appeared to be from another vessel.

Tests on the paint samples from Zim Asia showed they matched those of the overturned Japanese boat, coast guard spokesman Takatoshi Nagasaki confirmed Monday.

"So we determined that the two vessels collided," he said, adding that paint traces on the Japanese boat also matched the Israeli ship.

The Zim Asia's captain has denied involvement in the accident, telling South Korean authorities he didn't feel any collision.

The Israeli ship's operator, Zim Integrated Shipping Services, issued a statement Monday saying that it was "fully cooperating with Japan's Coast Guard" and has initiated an internal probe.

The Japanese No. 3 Shinseimaru, carrying eight crew members, overturned last Wednesday about 25 miles off the cape of Nosappu in Hokkaido, northern Japan. Seven crewmembers were found dead, while the other was rescued.

The cause of the incident was not immediately known. Japan planned to ask Israeli authorities to investigate Zim Asia.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda called the accident "extremely regrettable," and asked why the Israeli vessel had sailed away without searching for survivors.

Radar showed that a ship passed through the area at about the time of the accident and suddenly changed direction. Coast guard planes later sighted the Israeli container vessel in nearby waters.

Israel's Transportation Ministry said it would ask the Zim Asia's crew about the accusations, the AP reports.

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