Chinese ambassador summoned over ship in Senkaku waters

The latest incursion of a Chinese ship into waters controlled by Japan pushed the Foreign Ministry into summoning the Chinese Ambassador to Japan for a diplomatic scolding.

Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador Tuesday for the first time since Shinzo Abe assumed the Prime Minister post to “strongly protest” against the presence of official ships in waters around disputed islands.  The Foreign Ministry told China to stop sending the vessels to the area around the Senkakus, a set of disputed islands also claimed by China as the Diaoyus.

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki met with Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua to protest Beijing’s dispatching four ships Monday. The Ministry earlier lodged a protest with the Chinese embassy by telephone. It summoned Cheng Tuesday for the first time since conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power on Dec 26th with promises of assertive diplomacy to confront a confident China.

The ministry last summoned acting Chinese ambassador Han Zhiqiang on Dec 13th to file a strong protest after Beijing sent an airplane to the area. Japan scrambled fighter jets in response. It was the first incursion by a Chinese state aircraft into Japanese airspace anywhere since Tokyo’s military began monitoring in 1958.

In the meeting on Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry statement delivered by Saiki “strongly protested over the Chinese public vessels’ entry and staying for a long time inside Japanese territorial waters, as well as strongly demanded that such incidents do not happen again”.  Cheng responded by reiterating China’s claim over the islands, but said he will report Japan’s protest to Beijing.