TOKYO May 18 Japan on Thursday lodged a protest
with China after four Chinese coastguard vessels entered what
Tokyo considers its territorial waters near disputed East China
Sea islets and a drone-like object flew near one ship, the
Japanese government said.
It was the first such flight near the islands witnessed by
Japanese officials, although Thursday's incident takes to 13 the
number of intrusions this year by Chinese coastguard ships in
the contested waters, Japan's coastguard said.
Japan and China have long been at loggerheads over the tiny,
uninhabited islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in
China. They are controlled by Japan but claimed also by China.
Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign
Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, protested to the
Chinese embassy in Tokyo by telephone.
"The Senkaku islands are Japan's inherent territory and the
entry into the territorial waters by the Chinese government
ships is absolutely unacceptable," a Japanese Foreign Ministry
"On top of that, there appears to have been a flight of a
drone. We lodged a stern protest against this unilateral
escalation of the situation by China."
The Chinese embassy responded to the Japanese protest by
reiterating "China's own stance" on the islands, the official
In a brief statement on its website, China's State Oceanic
Administration confirmed that four coast guard vessels had been
patrolling by the islands, but made no mention of any drone.
China routinely rejects Japanese criticism of such patrols,
saying its ships have every right to operate in what China calls
its territorial waters.
(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Additional
reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Clarence