Japan protests at Chinese ships near disputed islands
Japan has lodged a protest with China against the entry of Chinese patrol ships into waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea, an issue that has long been a cause of friction between Asia’s two biggest economies.
Chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura said three Chinese fishery patrol ships entered waters near the uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.The islands, claimed by Beijing and Tokyo as well as Taipei, are located near rich fishing grounds and potentially huge oil and gas reserves.
Japan said last week it was considering a plan to buy the islands from private landowners instead of letting the nationalist governor of Tokyo go ahead with a similar plan, a move diplomatic experts said might have been intended to calm tensions but which risked backfiring and sending Sino-Japanese ties into a deep chill.
“It is clear that the Senkaku islands are inherently Japanese territory from a historical point of view and in terms of international law and that they are under the effective control of Japan,” Mr Fujimura told a news conference.
The three Chinese ships later left the waters but two of them were still sailing in the contiguous zone in the morning, with Japanese patrol ships keeping close watch, he said.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said the patrol vessels had entered the waters “to carry out a fishery protection mission in our exclusive economic zone” and repeated that the islands and surrounding waters had been Chinese territory since ancient times. – (Reuters)