On February 7, the Japanese Coast Guard announced that two Chinese Coast Guard vessels entered the Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands at about 3:50 am. The ships turned towards a Japanese fishing boat, about 22 kilometers south of Taisho Island, and made an attempt to approach. Since China’s new law, effective starting this month, allows its coast guard to use military force in waters the country claims, the Chinese government ships have sailed into the Japanese territorial waters near the Senkakus for two consecutive days.
According to the Japanese Coast Guard, the Japanese fishing boat had five people onboard, and Japanese patrol boats were deployed to ensure its safety. Japan’s Coast Guard also issued a warning and demanded the Chinese Coast Guard vessels leave their territorial waters. The two ships left one after another around 9:10 am and sailed to the contiguous area outside the territorial waters.
It is the fifth day this year that a Chinese official ship entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkakus. Two additional Chinese Coast Guard vessels were sailing in the contiguous area outside the territorial waters, one sporting a cannon-like weapon. The vicinity of the Senkakus, including the contiguous area, has seen Chinese official ships for nine consecutive days.
China’s new coast guard law has stoked concern in Japan, with some in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party urging bolstered measures in the area such as joint military exercises between the Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military near the Senkakus.
The islets sit in the rich fishing waters of the East China Sea and are believed to be home to vast mineral and gas deposits.
The new law allows the Chinese Coast Guard to take “all necessary measures,” including the use of weapons, against foreign organizations or individuals that violate Chinese sovereignty or China’s jurisdiction.
Source: Kyodo News, February 7, 2021