For the first time since he got back to power, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has summoned Chinese ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to “strongly protest” the presence of Chinese shipping vessels in the waters around the Senkakus/Diaoyu Islands, the source of much tension between the two countries.
Deputy minister for foreign affairs Akitaka Saiki met with the ambassador today after lodging a protest with the Chinese embassy via telephone. Four maritime surveillance ships were spotted in the area and Japanese officials view this as another sign that China is establishing the fact that they can go wherever they want to, despite this being Japanese waters. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that this move was “extremely unusual” and “regrettable.” The foreign ministry in a statement said that the government “strongly protested over the Chinese public vessels’ entry and staying for a long time inside Japanese territorial waters, as well as strongly demanded that such incidents do not happen again.”
Cheng responded by saying that China has a claim over the islands but will of course report the protest to Beijing, as is the protocol. But based on previous incidents, Abe and the government cannot expect an apology from China. Last December, the government also summoned then acting Chinese ambassador Han Zhiqiang when a Chinese state aircraft breached Japanese airspace near the area. Japan responded by sending scrambled fighter jets that was viewed by the Chinese as a sign of aggression.[ via Rappler ]