The Japan Coast Guard reported on Tuesday that, once again, four Chinese patrol ships sailing near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands entered Japanese territorial waters, prompting an exchange of words. Chinese vessels have been in the waters around the islands, yet just outside of Japan’s territory, for the last 11 straight days, but they’ve actually been making their presence known with few days of respite since early September. Today’s action comes just after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda pledged new funds to improve the coast guards’ capabilities.
The Chinese ships were stated as entering Japan’s waters around 10 AM. The Japan Coast Guard issued warnings over radio for the Chinese vessels to promptly leave the area. Yuji Kito, spokesman for the coast guard, stated the ships began flashing signs that claimed the territory belonged to China, and the Japanese ships needed to leave. While both countries have been in dispute over the islands for years, they were already under Japanese control before their purchase by the government in Tokyo in September, a move that rapidly escalated tensions to the worst they’ve ever been at.
Interestingly, the Chinese media is reporting that its marine surveillance ships found the Japanese vessels illegally in its waters while on routine patrol. Chinese authorities say they then carried out measures to “expel” the Japan Coast Guard, and then observed the ships and took pictures as evidence of their entrance into China’s sovereign territory.