Japan‘s foreign ministry has issued a strong protest with China’s ambassador in Toyko after the Japanese coast guard spotted four Chinese surveillance ships near one of the disputed Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea early on Thursday morning.
The ships refused to leave, saying the area was Chinese territory, according to Atsushi Takahashi, a spokesman for the coast guard’s headquarters in Okinawa, which has jurisdiction over the islands. He said it was the first time Chinese ships had entered the territorial waters since October 3.
The naval activity near the uninhabited islands called the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China comes after officials from Japan and China held talks last week in Shanghai to discuss the dispute. The dispute has heightened tensions between the nations in recent months.
As well as the recent nautical incursions, Japan’s defence ministry also released statistics showing that fighter jets were scrambled “54 times between July and September in response to possible incursions of Japanese airspace by Chinese warplanes”.
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