Japan gears up to face Chinese challenge at Senkaku islands


China-Japan Senkaku Island Face Off: Amid escalating tensions in the disputed East China Sea, Japan is considering to send its self-defence forces to deal with the surge in Chinese activity at the Senkaku Islands, according to a report in the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post (SCMP). China claims sovereignty over the islands, known as Diaoyu in the country.

The Chinese Coast Guard has expanded its presence in the contested water near the Diaoyu Islands.

The increased activity by China comes after it implements a new law that allows Beijing’s para-military force to use weapons against foreign ships, which Chinese authorities believe to have illegally entered in the country’s territorial waters.

The frequency of Chinese coastguard vessels entering the waters has risen from twice a month last year to twice a week in February, according to the Japan Coast Guard. A Japanese official said Tokyo was alarmed by the Chinese activities and was considering its response.

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“Under our domestic law, the self-defence forces can use weapons as law enforcement against unlawful activities on behalf of our coastguard if the Chinese coastguard enters our territorial waters including surrounding the Senkaku Islands without permission,” the South China Morning Post report quoted the official as saying.

Japan Navy Senkaku Islands

Japan Navy (File).

While stressing that Japan did not intend to escalate the situation, the official said Tokyo would try to increase pressure on China on the diplomatic front, such as seeking support from countries like Britain and Canada.

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The islands in question have long been an object of territorial disputes between China and Japan. Last month, Japan lodged a protest with China after two Chinese ships intruded into Japanese coastal waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, local media reported.

China has conflicting territorial claims with four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. These are Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

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China also claims sovereignty over Taiwan in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, US warships carried out freedom of navigation operations in an apparent bid to challenge Chinese claims and actions in the area.

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