Japan filed a diplomatic protest against Beijing after Chinese ships encroached on Japanese territory near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea for a record 66th day on Wednesday, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
For at least 66 consecutive days, Japan has recorded Chinese coastguard vessels operating in or near Japanese waters surrounding the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which are Japan’s sovereign territory. China illegally claims the island chain.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan will “respond” to China’s prolonged aggression near the islands:
The Senkaku Islands are under our control and are unquestionably our territory, historically and under international law. We believe it is extremely serious that these activities continue. We will respond firmly and calmly to the Chinese side.
On May 8, Japanese coastguard vessels were deployed to waters near the Senkaku archipelago after four Chinese coastguard ships were reported belligerently chasing a Japanese fishing boat. The fishing boat had been operating within Japanese territorial waters off of Uotsuri Island, one of the Senkauku’s minor islets. The Japanese coastguard ships issued a radio warning to the Chinese coastguard ships, ordering them to stop harassing the fishing boat and leave the area, which they eventually did.
The very next day, two of the four Chinese coastguard vessels involved in the bullying of the Japanese fishing boat again entered Japanese territorial waters, according to the Japan Coast Guard. According to the SCMP, this incessant harassment by the China Coast Guard has continued for over two months now, prompting the Japanese to formally protest the belligerent maritime activity.