4 Chinese Vessels Enter Japan’s Contiguous Zone near Senkaku Islands; 158th Consecutive Day Since December

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A China Coast Guard vessel, center, is flanked by Japan Coast Guard patrol ships off Uotsuri Island, among the Senkaku Islands.

A Japan Coast Guard patrol ship on Monday observed four China Coast Guard sailing inside Japan’s contiguous zone — approximately 22 kilometers outside its territorial waters — near the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture. The sighting marks the 158th consecutive day since December 22 of last year that Chinese coast guard vessels have entered Japan’s contiguous waters, the longest period on record.

According to an announcement by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, the four vessels are sailing off Uotsuri Island and Minami-Kojima Island, and Japanese patrol ships are on alert to prevent them from entering Japan’s territorial waters. Last year, ships entered Japan’s contiguous zone nonconsecutively 352 days — the most ever — with 34 intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters over the year.

At a press conference on Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said, “We take extremely seriously the series of movements inside Japan’s contiguous zone and intrusions into our territorial waters.” He said Japan has always deployed more patrol ships in the area than the Chinese side and repeatedly issued warnings. “While ensuring a thorough security system for Japan’s territorial waters, we are conveying our thoughts and the position of our country to the Chinese side through diplomatic channels at various levels,” he added.