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Japan Can Shoot at Foreign Official Vessels Landing on Senkaku Islands

At a Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP’s) defense and security panel on February 25, Japan’s government officials said, amid rising concerns about the escalation of the Sino-Japanese rivalry surrounding the Senkaku Islands, that if a foreign official ship were to forcibly land on the Senkaku Islands (called the Diaoyu Islands in China), the Japanese coast guard might consider this as a vicious crime and might use weapons to suppress the opponent’s resistance. Analysts believe that this is a reaction and measure to strengthen deterrence against Chinese coast guard vessels entering Japanese territorial waters.

According to the LDP members at the meeting, this is the first time government officials have referred to the coast guard’s possible firing on foreign official vessels aiming to land on Japanese territory.

The interpretation (of the LDP’s response) is partly based on applying the use of the police power under a police law to the coast guard. Earlier Japan’s coast guard was only allowed to fire weapons directly at foreign vessels in cases of self-defense and emergency escape.

In addition, the government also stated that, when a foreign government ship takes away any Japanese citizens, the Japanese coast guard can board the opponent’s ship and retake the hostages. For small drones flying around territorial waters, the self-defense forces can regard it as a violation of airspace and respond with actions that including shooting them down.

Source: Kyodo News, February 25, 2021