As China celebrated its National Day, the founding of their republic in 1949, on Tuesday, several ships sailed into Japan’s territorial waters as their dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands continues. The Japan Coast Guard said four ships from China’s Coast Guard entered the 12-nautical-mile territorial waters near the islands at around 9:00 AM, and then left six hours later.
This latest intrusion, the second in two weeks, comes as Japan and the United States prepare for the “2+2″ meeting between the two countries’ defense and foreign ministers. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry are heading to Tokyo this Thursday to meet with their counterparts, Itsunori Onodera and Fumio Kishida, respectively. At the top of the agenda for the meeting is the discussion of the operational arrangements over the Tokyo-Washington alliance, which will see a reduction in the number of US personnel in Japan, particularly in Okinawa. 9,000 marines that were originally deployed in Japan will now be sent to Guam (4,000) and other countries and Pacific Islands like Hawaii and Australia.
The vessels that were patrolling the Senkaku waters are part of Beijing‘s moves to create a “new normal”, which will show Japan that they have no complete control over the islands, and might force Tokyo to acknowledge that there is indeed a territorial row. That is one of China’s preconditions to accepting Japan’s overtures to sit down and discuss their issues that have affected diplomatic relations between the two Asia powers, as Japan refuses to formally acknowledge that there is an issue over control of the resource-rich islands.
[ via AFP ]