NAHA, Okinawa Pref. — Chinese surveillance vessels on Thursday entered Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands for the first time in three weeks, the Japan Coast Guard said.
The government lodged a “strong protest” over the intrusion with China through diplomatic channels.
Three Chinese surveillance vessels moved into the waters near Minamikojima, one of the five main islets in the Senkaku group, at around 6:30 a.m., the coast guard said. About an hour later, another surveillance vessel entered the territorial waters, according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.
A patrol boat warned the vessels to leave, but one replied via radio that the area “is China’s,” the coast guard said.
It is the first time since Oct. 3 that Chinese surveillance vessels have entered Japan’s territorial waters around the islets, known as Diaoyu in China, which claims them as its territory.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the ships were conducting a “regular patrol for maintaining authority” and a “normal official activity that asserted (China’s) jurisdiction.”
Following the intrusion, the government upgraded the status of the unit in the prime minister’s office dealing with aggressive Chinese maritime activities.
Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai lodged a protest in the morning by telephone with Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua, urging Beijing to immediately withdraw the vessels.
The four surveillance ships had moved close to the Japanese contiguous zone every day since Saturday but did not enter it..
Taiwan-China grab urged
TAIPEI — Taiwan and China should team up to “reclaim” the Senkaku Islands, a group calling for Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland said during a march Thursday in Taipei.
The march began in front of the Presidential Office and ended at the square of the Interchange Association, Japan’s de facto mission in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties. It was held on the anniversary of the end of Japan’s 50-year colonial rule of Taiwan 67 years ago.
In a petition presented to President Ma Ying-jeou, the group complimented the administration for taking “vigorous” actions to protect the trawling rights of Taiwanese fishermen and asserting maritime sovereignty in the contested waters off the islets, which are called Tiaoyutai in Taiwan and Diaoyu in China.
The group said it fully supports Ma’s stance on the contested islets, referring to a recent comment Ma made that his administration “will not budge an inch” despite sound relations with Japan, and another before he was first elected in 2008 that Taiwan should stop at nothing to protect Taiwanese fishermen’s rights.