Japan has protested to Beijing over a Chinese survey ship that operated for 10 days inside the exclusive economic zone claimed by Japan around Okinotorishima, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that coastguard officials spotted a Chinese ship using survey equipment in the waters on July 9 and ordered it to stop. The Chinese ship stayed in the area until Saturday and Japan protested to Beijing via diplomatic channels, according to Suga.
Tokyo says Okinotorishima – two uninhabited rocky outcroppings about 1,700km (1,060 miles) southwest of Tokyo – are islands. However, China says they are only rocks and do not qualify as a demarcation point for Japan’s exclusive economic zone, as Japan claims under international law.
Beijing does not dispute Japan’s control over Okinotorishima, but has repeatedly criticized Tokyo’s claim that it is an island. “We have not given permission to the Chinese side to conduct a maritime scientific survey in the waters,” AP quoted Suga as saying. Japan and China have stepped up their territorial disputes recently. China has ramped up its claim to Japanese-controlled islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese.