WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – JAPAN : The Japanese government on Wednesday strongly protested Chinese vessels’ entry into disputed waters off the islands in the East China Sea.
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said he lodged a “strong” protest with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi over the trespassing on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
Gamba told reporters after his hour-long meeting with Yang that ties between the two countries should not be strained over the incident. He added that Yang repeated China’s claim over the islands.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry reportedly summoned China’s Ambassador to lodge Tokyo’s protest over incursion into its territory.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference that three Chinese fishery patrol vessels entered waters near the uninhabited islands before day break on Wednesday.
It is not clear if the vessels left the area, but Fujimura said a Japanese Coast Guard patrol ship was keeping close watch sailing close to the Chinese vessels.
The islands, known as Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, are claimed by all the three countries as the region surrounding them is oil-rich and close to key international shipping routes.
Fujimura told reporters that “the Senkaku islands are inherently Japanese territory from a historical point of view and in terms of international law and that they are under the effective control of Japan.”
But China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted fishery authorities as saying that the “law enforcement vessels” — Yuzheng-202, Yuzheng-204 and Yuzheng-35001 — were conducting a routine patrol to monitor if a ban on fishing in the East China Sea from June 1 to protect fish during the spawning season is violated.
In order to safeguard the interests of Chinese oceanic fishing industry and ensure safety of Chinese fishermen, the China Fishery Administration Bureau has included areas surrounding the Diaoyu Islands and affiliated islets in its regular patrol scope since 2010.
Xinhua said “China considers the Diaoyu Islands and affiliated islets as inherent parts of its territory since ancient times.”
The claim over the archipelago, which consists of five islands and three reefs, has long been a cause of friction between Asia’s two biggest economies. It is controlled by Japan and forms part of Okinawa prefecture.
Japanese businessman Kunioki Kurihara owns three of the islands, which is leased to the central government, to “protect” them from Chinese maritime incursions.
A fresh row erupted last week when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that his government was considering buying the islets in response to a similar plan initiated by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara.