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Chinese annoyed by Japanese fishing near Senkaku Islands

Date Posted: 2011-07-07

China has lodged a protest with Japan over reports that Japanese fishing boats are operating near a series of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan, but claimed as Chinese territory by China, which calls the string of islands Diaoyu. Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the islands. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has demanded that the Japanese boats leave the waters. He noted some already have, leaving open the door to keeping the incident from impacting Sino-Japan relations.

Japanese fishermen were the first ones irritated over the actions of the Chinese, leading to a group of 10 fishing boats from an Ishigaki fishing cooperative heading from a local port Sunday en route to the Senkaku Islands. All of the boats except one were expected to remain in the East China Sea for several days, fishing the area and transmitting images of the activity to the world in what fishermen say will “prove” the uninhabited islands and surrounding waters belong to Japan.

One vessel that left Ishigaki with the group has already turned back, as planned. It’s owned by a political group and had announced from the beginning it would return to Ishigaki on Monday.

Fishermen say they’ve no plans to actually set foot on any of the Senkaku Islands. Tensions quickly began mounting as the boats headed toward the islands. In Naha City, the Japan Coast Guard regional headquarters reported that they’d been observing a Chinese fishery patrol boat operating in the contiguous zone near one of the islands Sunday about 6:40 a.m. Coast Guard officials say the Chinese vessel was warned not to enter Japanese waters, and received a reply the ship was operating in waters under Chinese jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the Chinese boat quickly departed the zone about 10:40 a.m.

Japanese officials say the encounter was the 10th with a Chinese fisheries patrol boat since an incident last September in which a Chinese fishing trawler collided with two different Japan Coast Guard patrol boats that were warning it away.

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