China yesterday denounced a visit by two local Japanese lawmakers to disputed islands in the East China Sea at the heart of a territorial row between Asian nations.
The chain of isles, known as the Diaoyutais (釣魚台) in Taiwan, Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said they have been an integral part of China since ancient times.
“The misdeed by the two local Japanese representatives violates China’s territorial integrity,” Jiang said in the statement on the ministry’s Web site. “China has made a solemn representation and a strong protest to Japan.”
The lawmakers, who went to the islands by boat on Friday, are members of the Ishigaki city council in Okinawa, Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV said. Japan considers Ishigaki city responsible for the administration of the uninhabited isles.
Japan’s policy is not to allow anyone to land on the islands, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told reporters on Friday, adding that the coast guard was looking into it.
Hitoshi Nakama and Yoichi Minosoko, members of the municipal assembly of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, were on Minami Kojima in the East China Sea for around 40 minutes early on Friday, Jiji Press and Kyodo News said.
Television footage showed Nakama, 61, and Minosoko, 29, swimming from their fishing boat in life vests to reach the island.
Nakama and Minosoko were quoted by Jiji Press as saying they felt they needed to make the visit as assemblymen in the district supervising the islands.