Four Chinese maritime surveillance ships were spotted in territorial waters around disputed Tokyo-controlled islands yesterday, Japan’s coast guard said.
The ships entered Japan’s 12 nautical mile (22km) territorial waters around the East China Sea islands at around 11am and sailed out to the contiguous zone after a few hours, the coastguard said.
It said the Chinese ships were not the same as those which spent several hours on Thursday in territorial waters around the islands claimed by Tokyo, Taipei and Beijing. That incursion provoked a strong protest by Japan.
China’s state news agency Xinhua, citing the country’s State Oceanic Administration, said the vessels were engaged in “routine patrols and law enforcement activities” in the waters.
It said the Chinese fleet told the Japanese coast guard ships to “immediately leave China’s territory,” while monitoring them “for the purpose of collecting evidence of infringement on China’s sovereignty.”
Tensions have risen in recent months over the islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands (釣魚島) in China, which lie in rich fishing grounds.
Taiwan, which also claims the islands, refers to them as the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).