Japan’s government on Monday filed a diplomatic protest with Beijing over the violation of its maritime territory by China Coast Guard vessels near the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea earlier that same day, Kyodo News reported.
The Chinese People’s Armed Police Force Coast Guard deployed two ships to enter Japanese territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands on May 9. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu confirmed the intrusion into Japan’s sovereign maritime territory during a press briefing on May 9.
“It is totally regrettable and intolerable that China’s coast guard ships have entered territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands,” he said, as quoted by Kyodo News.
“Such activities violate international law in the first place. We have lodged a protest through diplomatic channels and strongly urged them to leave the territorial waters swiftly,” Matsuno stated.
The Senkaku Islands are a chain of uninhabited islets controlled by Japan’s government but claimed by that of China, which refers to them as the Diaoyu. The Senkaku archipelago lies roughly 105 miles north of Ishigaki Island, which is part of Japan’s southwestern Okinawa Prefecture.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) conducted daily sea and air drills in waters near Ishigaki Island from May 2 to May 8, Kyodo News reported on May 9.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense confirmed at a press briefing on Sunday it had observed a Chinese Liaoning aircraft carrier in waters about 99 miles south of Ishigaki Island for the sixth straight day, adding that “fighter jets and helicopters were spotted taking off from and landing on the Liaoning.”
“The activities could be part of China’s efforts to bolster its joint aerial and maritime operational capabilities in the Pacific, and Japan will continue to take heed of the situation and keep up surveillance at sea and in the air,” Kyodo News paraphrased Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno as saying on May 9.
Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo described the nearly week-long Chinese military operations off of Ishigaki Island as “the closest ever to Japan to date” on May 10. He further revealed that Chinese fighter jets and helicopters conducted “more than 100 landings and takeoffs” from the Chinese PLAN’s Liaoning aircraft carrier during the course of the drills.
The Senkaku Islands are located about 105 miles northeast of Taiwan, which is a sovereign island nation likewise claimed by China’s ruling Communist Party. Beijing has vowed to “reunify” Taiwan with China repeatedly in recent years and has increasingly bolstered this threat in recent months with nearly incessant violations of the island nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), most recently on May 8.
The Chinese military confirmed on May 9 that it conducted naval and air force exercises “to the east and southwest of Taiwan” from May 6 to May 8. The Chinese PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command said it ordered the drills to “further test and improve the joint combat capability of multiple services and arms.”
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