Buoy Believed to be Chinese Found Floating in Japan’s EEZ; Japan Coast Guard Issues Alert for Vessels in the Vicinity

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Foreground to background, Minami-Kojima, Kita-Kojima and Uotsuri islands of the Senkaku Islands are seen from a Yomiuri Shimbun plane on Sept. 6, 2013.

A buoy believed to belong to China was found drifting in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea with a broken fixture in late January, the Yomiuri Shimbun learned from government sources.

The buoy, about 5 meters in diameter, with “QF223” written on it along with Chinese characters that mean “China ocean observation,” is believed to have been installed by Chinese authorities. The Japan Coast Guard has issued an alert, calling on vessels navigating in the vicinity to be careful of collisions.

The Japanese government is proceeding with an analysis of the purpose of the buoy and is also considering recovering and examining it.

According to several sources, a Coast Guard patrol vessel found the buoy floating upside down in the sea about 170 kilometers north of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture on Monday. The buoy is believed to be a mooring buoy with a weight attached to a chain that is lowered into the sea to hold it in place. It is likely that the base of the chain broke and the weight was lost, causing the buoy to drift away.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Last July, it was learned that a Chinese authority’s research vessel had installed a buoy with a diameter of about 10 meters, presumably for oceanographic research, in the Japanese EEZ about 80 kilometers northwest of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The Japanese government protested to China through diplomatic channels and repeatedly demanded the immediate removal of the buoy, but China has not responded and the buoy remains in place.