The Japan Coast Guard said that three Chinese maritime surveillance ships entered territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands early today. The vessels were said to have sailed into the waters a little after 7 a.m. and left only at around 9:20 a.m. A couple of Chinese fisheries patrol vessels were also seen traveling in the contiguous zone outside Japan’s territorial waters.
According to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, when they warned the vessels not to proceed further into Japanese waters, one of them made a radio call saying that the Senkakus are Chinese territory since ancient times. The three ships then went on to sail in the contiguous zone. The director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Shinsuke Sugiyama, immediately phoned the Chinese minister-counselor to Japan, Han Zhiqiang, to protest the act. Han merely reiterated China’s claim over the lands.
In another twist of events, a fishing cooperative in southwestern Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture revealed today that two Chinese ships tracked at close range two Japanese fishing boats from Ibusuki city in waters near Uotsuri Island, the largest of the Senkakus, sometime in early February. The two fishing boats thereafter gave up fishing in the area as the Chinese vessels sailed worryingly close to them for a good six hours.[via Channel News Asia]