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4 Chinese ships enter Japan’s contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands; 158th consecutive day since December

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Chinese Coast Guard ship, center, is flanked by Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessels off the coast of Uotsuri Island, among the Senkaku Islands.

A Japan Coast Guard patrol ship on Monday observed four Chinese coast guards sailing within Japan’s contiguous zone – about 22 kilometers outside territorial waters – near the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture. The sighting marks the 158th consecutive day since December 22 last year that Chinese coast guard ships have entered Japan’s bordering waters, the longest period on record.

According to an announcement from the Coast Guard’s 11th Regional Headquarters in Naha, the four ships are sailing off the islands of Uotsuri and Minami-Kojima and Japanese patrol ships are on alert to prevent them from entering Japanese territorial waters. Last year, ships entered Japan’s zone non-consecutively for 352 days – the highest ever – with 34 violations of Japanese territorial waters during the year.

At a press conference on Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said: “We take the series of movements within Japan’s contiguous zone and the infringements on our territorial waters very seriously.” He said Japan has always deployed more patrol ships in the area than the Chinese side and has repeatedly issued warnings. “While ensuring a thorough security system for Japan’s territorial waters, we convey our thoughts and our country’s position to the Chinese side through diplomatic channels at various levels,” he added.

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