Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 10:23 UK

Japan fishermen strike over fuel

Fishing boats moored in Omaezaki, Japan, on 15 July 2008
Boats across Japan stayed in port as part of the protests

Fishermen across Japan are mounting a one-day strike in protest at rising fuel costs.

About 200,000 boats - almost the entire industry - sat idle in ports, and thousands of fishermen demonstrated in a park in central Tokyo.

Strikes are relatively rare in Japan, but fishermen say soaring fuel costs as well as falling fish prices are wrecking their industry.

Countries around the world have seen protests against food and fuel prices.

In the Japanese capital, several thousand fishermen joined a march to highlight their concerns.

"If we go out to sea, fuel costs are too high and business has slumped into the red," 74-year-old Yoshiro Kiyono told the French news agency AFP.

"I've stopped going out to sea because I can't make a profit," he said.

Fuel costs for fishermen have tripled in three years, the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations said.

Striking fishermen raise their fists in unison during a protest in a park in Tokyo on Tuesday
Such shows of protest are unusual in Japan

"Fisherman have exceeded the limits of what they can do on their own, and in the current situation face mounting losses when they set out to catch fish," it said.

The federation wants the government to help the industry with measures such as tax breaks.

It is not just rising fuel costs that are affecting Japan's fishing industry.

It faces a number of challenges, including a shift towards eating more meat and concern over falling fish stocks.

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