Japan witnesses Chinese and Russian warships near conflicting islands


Tokyo (AP) — Japan protested Beijing after discovering Chinese and Russian warships just outside the territorial waters of the conflicting East China Sea islands on Monday.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense said Chinese frigate ships sailed within the “contiguous zone” just outside Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands.

According to the ministry, the existence of Chinese warships was confirmed about 40 minutes after the Russian frigate entered the waters for more than an hour.

What was behind the recent military activities of China and Russia in the region was not immediately clear. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces said the ship may have been there to avoid the typhoon.

Deputy Prime Minister Seiji Kihara said Japan had filed a protest in Beijing expressing “grave concern” about the case.

“The Senkaku Islands are an endemic part of Japan’s territory, both historically and under international law. The government will calmly but firmly address this issue in order to protect Japan’s land, territorial waters and airspace. That would be it, “said Kihara.

He said there were no territorial waters violations.

In Beijing, China justified the entry of frigates and criticized Tokyo’s protests. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said the islands are Chinese territory.

“The activity of Chinese vessels in nearby waters is legal and justified,” he said at regular press conferences. “Japan does not have the right to make such irresponsible statements.”

Japan sees China’s increasingly aggressive military activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea as a threat to regional stability. The Orient is particularly sensitive to China’s activities near the disputed islands.

Kihara said Monday’s invasion of Chinese warships into the adjacent zone between the territorial waters and the wider exclusive economic zone was the fourth such event since June 2016.


Beijing Associated Press writer Ken Moritsugu contributed to this report.