A boat full of activists set sail from Taiwan on Thursday morning intending to reach the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, currently under Japanese control, but claimed by China, as well as Taiwan. The vessel is being accompanied by several Taiwanese Coast Guard ships, and are now being warned by the Japan Coast Guard to turn back, while still roughly 28 nautical miles from the disputed territory.
The seven individuals on the fishing boat are said to be on their way to plant a statue of a sea goddess believed to protect those at sea. A spokesman from the Taiwanese Coast Guard has denied that this was an organized flotilla, but says that their ships will go wherever the fishing boat sails in order to offer protection and defend their sovereignty. Calling the islands Tiaoyutai, Taiwan says the waters of the territory are vital to its fishing industry.
Eight Japan Coast Guard patrol ships are now said to be trying to prevent the fishing boat and Taiwanese vessels from advancing any further. After issuing calls to turn back, Japan fired water canons in warning. That same action was taken in September of last year, after several Taiwanese Coast Guard tried to enter the disputed waters. While actions such as these from Taiwan have been very minimal since tensions erupted between the three Asian countries, China has been much more aggressive in defending its claims, with several escalations in the last week, including intrusions from Chinese patrol ships and increasing talk of military actions and preparations for war.