Tokyo, Oct 13 (efe-epa).- The government of Japan Tuesday labeled the presence of Chinese ships in its territorial waters of the remote Senkaku islands as regrettable and pledged to defend its sovereignty.
The comments follow reports that since the weekend two Chinese Coast Guard ships have intruded into Japanese waters near the Senkakus, marking a record length of incursion time.
In his daily press conference, Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said it was regrettable that the incursion has continued for more than two days.
The archipelago of the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, called Diaoyu by China, is administered by Japan, although China and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over the area.
Japan maintains that China and Taiwan began to assert their sovereignty over the Senkakus more than half a century ago after the discovery of potential oil reserves in the East China Sea.
Tokyo maintains that the islands are an inherent part of its territory, both in terms of history and international law, and that there is no issue of sovereignty to be resolved, according to state broadcaster NHK.
According to reports from the Japanese Coast Guard, the entry of the two Chinese vessels occurred on Sunday morning when they tried to approach a Japanese fishing boat in the waters, and they have been there ever since.
As of 9 am Tuesday, the ships were about 7 kilometers south-southeast to 14 kilometers south-southwest of Japanese-owned Taisho island, one in the chain, according to NHK.
Japanese ships approached the area to demand the departure of the Chinese vessels, as well as to protect the Japanese fishing boat.
The Coast Guard was continuing to warn the Chinese ships to leave the country’s waters.
Incidents such as this are frequent in the waters, but this is the longest lasting incursion of Chinese ships in Japanese waters.
Kato said that in accordance with the policy of continuing to protect Japan’s territory and maritime sovereignty, it will collect information in cooperation with related ministries and official agencies. EFE-EPA