Two Chinese coast guard ships navigated Japan’s territorial waters near a chain of disputed Senkaku islands for more than 64 hours this week, the country’s authorities informed on Friday. As per the Japanese coast guards, Chinese ships invaded Japan’s territorial waters in the wee hours of Tuesday and remained there till late on Thursday. During what Tokyo said was the longest Chinese incursion in a decade, the vessels surveilled a Japanese fishing boat also.

According to CNN, the Chinese vessels, at one point in time, came as close to 1.9 miles of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands while also overhauling the internationally recognised 12-mile limit that defines a country’s territorial waters. Japan’s coast guard dispatched its own patrol ships to the area and demanded the Chinese vessels immediately exit Japan’s territorial waters, according to a statement.

Prior incursions by Chinese vessels in Japanese territorial waters

Earlier this month, it was reported that Chinese Coast Guard vessels have made record 112 incursions in the Japanese territorial waters in the Senkaku Islands approximately 170 kilometres from Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture, in the East China Sea. At least four Haijing ships from the Chinese coast guard encroached the international maritime boundaries as they entered the Japanese-administered island chain, earlier this month. Japan Coast Guard’s 11th regional headquarters in Naha said in a statement that the Chinese vessels encroached in the Japanese waters between April 14 and August 2 last year for a record 333 times as they sailed near the disputed islands, however, in 2021, they have bolstered their naval presence.

What is the conflict around the Senkaku islands?

Senkaku islands are a group of uninhabited islands that have been the bone of contestation between Beijing and Tokyo for decades. The archipelago had been under Japanese control since 1895. However, in the late 1970s, China apparently began taking interest in the island after evidence regarding the existence of oil reserves surfaced. The dispute eventually led to the island’s inclusion in the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, requiring the US to aid the islands in case a Sino-Japan war ensues.

(Image: AP)

(With inputs from agencies)