Tokyo protests to Beijing after Chinese coast guard vessels approach Senkakus again
Stars and Stripes January 30, 2023
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Tokyo lodged a diplomatic complaint with Beijing on Monday after a flotilla of Chinese government vessels entered waters claimed by Japan around the Senkakus, five islets and three barren rocks in the East China Sea, according to Japanese government statements.
Four Chinese Coast Guard ships following Japanese fishing and commercial craft passed the 12-mile territorial limit around the Senkakus between 2:47 a.m. and 6:07 a.m. Monday, a Japan Coast Guard spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone that day.
All four vessels exited those waters without incident by 2 p.m., he said.
Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry lodged a complaint with the Chinese Embassy in Japan and with the Chinese government in Beijing on Monday morning, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone. Some government officials in Japan are required to speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.
The first Chinese ship approached Minamikojima from the southeast and entered the 12-mile limit at 2:47 a.m., according to the coast guard spokesman. He said the vessel appeared to be armed with a deck-mounted machine-gun.
It was followed by another approaching south of Uotsurijima at 4:31 a.m.; a third entering from the south-southwest of Minamikojima at 4:31 a.m.; and a final ship entering southeast of Minamikojima at 6:07 a.m., the spokesman said.
A contingent of Japan Coast Guard vessels positioned themselves between the Chinese and Japanese ships and warned the Chinese vessels to leave the area, he said. The first Chinese vessel departed the waters south of Uotsurijima at 12:35 p.m.
The incident was the second this year in which Chinese vessels intruded into Japanese waters, the spokesman said. The last happened on Jan. 10.