Saturday, August 6, 2016

Japan protests China's vessels around disputed islands

TOKYO (AP)  Japan
summoned Chinese diplomats Saturday to protest after six Chinese coast guard
vessels approached disputed East China Sea islands accompanying a fleet of
hundreds of Chinese fishing boats.

Japan's Foreign Ministry
said in a statement it filed the protest after Japan's coast guard spotted the
vessels Saturday along with a fleet of 230 Chinese fishing boats swarming
around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands. China also claims the islands,
calling them the Diaoyu.
Japan is demanding the ships
leave the area. Three of the Chinese coast guard vessels were armed with what
appeared to be gun batteries, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.
The Chinese fleet has not
intruded in Japanese territorial waters so far, it said.
China's increasingly
assertive maritime activities in the East and South China seas have raised
concerns and tensions in the region. Japan has joined the U.S., the Philippines
and others in urging China to abide by international law after a U.N.
arbitration panel ruled in favor of the Philippines in its maritime dispute
with Beijing in the South China Sea.
China says it doesn't
recognize the July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Relations between Japan and
China have been strained over wartime history, a sensitive topic for the region
in times of war-end anniversaries during the summer.
China's coast guard vessels
routinely sail around the islands, usually in pairs or up to four. Until now,
only one of the vessels was armed.
Saturday's fleet size and
equipment showed "an escalation of the situation that could heighten
tensions in the waters," the ministry said, without elaborating on what
might have caused the increase.
On Friday, Japan also
protested after two Chinese coast guard ships entered the Japanese-claimed
waters around Senkaku.

There has been no immediate
comment from Beijing.

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