BEIJING — Japan strongly rejected a Chinese demand on Saturday that it apologize for detaining a Chinese fishing boat captain whose arrest after a collision near disputed islands plunged relations between the two Asian powers to their lowest level in years.
Japanese authorities released the captain, Zhan Qixiong, early Saturday and he was flown home by chartered plane to Fuzhou in China's southeastern Fujian province.
State broadcaster China Central Television showed 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.