Kiyoshi Takenaka and Antoni Slodkowski
September 24, 2012
TOKYO, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Four Chinese ships briefly entered what Japan considers its territorial waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea on Monday, prompting an official protest from Tokyo and renewed diplomatic efforts to cool tensions between the rivals.
In a move that could further complicate the territorial row that is threatening relations between Asia’s biggest economies, a group of fishermen from Taiwan — which also claims the rocky isles — said as many as 100 boats escorted by 10 Taiwan Coast Guard vessels were headed for the area.
China’s Xinhua news agency said in the morning that two civilian surveillance ships were undertaking a “rights defence” patrol near the islands, citing the State Oceanic Administration, which controls the ships. Two fishery patrol vessels were also detected inside waters claimed by Japan.
Japan lodged an official protest.
By afternoon, all four Chinese vessels had moved further away, the Japanese Coast Guard said.
Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply after Japan bought the islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, earlier this month, sparking anti-Japan protests across China.