Japan Protests Chinese Incursion Near Disputed Islands

Posted August 24th, 2011 at 5:05 am (UTC-5)
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Japan formally protested to China Wednesday after two Chinese patrol boats entered what Japan considers its territorial waters in the East China Sea.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo was summoned to the Foreign Ministry over the incident, which occurred early Wednesday near a disputed island chain known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The islands are administered by Japan.

Japan's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain in the same area last year created a crisis in relations with China that lasted for several months.

Edano said the vice foreign minister told the ambassador the islands are an integral part of Japanese territory, historically and under international law. He said the vice minister demanded that China prevent a recurrence.

The Japanese coast guard said the two fisheries patrol boats approached the islands Wednesday morning and sailed inside of what Japan claims as its 20-kilometer territorial limit.

The coast guard said it radioed a warning to the Chinese boats, which responded that they were acting legally within Chinese territory. It said they stayed for about 40 minutes.

Edano said Chinese vessels have approached the islands several times since last year's incident, but this was the first time they have sailed inside the 20-kilometer zone.

Last year's crisis was sparked when the Japanese arrested a Chinese fishing captain who rammed his trawler into a coast guard vessel.

China responded by breaking off all high-level contact with Japan and restricting the export to Japan of vital rare earth minerals used in high-tech manufacturing.