Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit instructed his ministry Sunday to send a special investigator to Hong Kong in order to check whether an Israeli ship owned by the "Zim" company was involved in a collision last week with a Japanese fishing boat.
Seven Japanese fishermen were killed in the accident.
The Zim company denied that its ship was involved in the incident.
A spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, Avner Ovadiah, said Sunday that the ministry would send a shipping captain to follow-up on the accusations with Zim Asia and its crew.
Ovadiah added that this was not a formal investigation.
Sheetrit's decision followed the recovery Sunday of a Japanese fishing boat found capsized last week with seven of its crew dead. The Japanese coast guard, who found the boat, said marks on it seemed to match damage found on an Israeli container ship in the area.
"We continue to suspect the Israeli ship was involved, but we need to wait for results of further investigations," said coast guard official Shozo Sano.
Sano said traces of paint on the Israeli vessel appeared to correspond with scars on the fishing boat.
In Jerusalem, Israel said it was prepared to cooperate with Japan in any investigation.
"Japan and Israel have a good relationship," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Sunday. We'll be working with our Japanese friends to get to the bottom of this."
South Korean officials examined the Israeli-registered Zim Asia while it was docked in the country's port of Busan on Thursday and confirmed there was damage to the left side of the ship's hull, as well as paint traces that appeared to be from another vessel, Sano said.
But Zim Asia's captain has denied involvement in the accident, telling South Korean authorities he didn't feel any collision.
Japan's coast guard, soon to receive the paint samples from its South Korean counterpart, will run tests to determine whether they match paint from the Japanese fishing boat, Sano said.
Seven crew members were killed and one was rescued when the No. 3 Shinseimaru overturned early Wednesday about 40 kilometers off the cape of Nosappu in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island state.
Fishing radar showed that a ship passed through the accident site early Wednesday and suddenly changed direction. Coast guard planes later sighted the Israeli container vessel in nearby waters.
The ship is currently on its scheduled path to Hong Kong, he said, but could not provide details on its whereabouts during the accident, or elaborate on the captain's denials.
Because the incident took place on the high seas, neither Japan nor South Korea have the authority to conduct investigations on ships other than their own.
The Israeli ship sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Seattle in United States, and passed through the waters off Nosappu before docking in Busan, according to Kyodo. The vessel set sail for Hong Kong on Saturday.
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