A Chinese fishing boat collided –twice– with two Japan Coast Guard ships sent to intercept it as the boat sailed in waters claimed by Japan. The incident, which happened today, involved the fishing trawler Nippon Chinese (an odd name, since “Nippon” in Japanese means “Japan”) and the Japan Coast Guard ships Yonakuni and Mizuki.
China disputes Japan’s claimed ownership of the Senkaku Islands, where the incident took place, which in China are called the Diaoyu Islands.
The incident Tuesday morning started when Japan’s 1,349-ton patrol boat the Yonakuni ordered the Chinese trawler to cease fishing in the disputed waters, Kyodo News agency reported, citing the Japanese Coast Guard.
The Chinese boat’s bow then hit the Yonakuni‘s stern and also collided with another Japanese patrol boat, the Mizuki, some 40 minutes later, Kyodo reported citing the coastguard.
Three Japanese patrol boats then chased the Chinese vessel, and 22 Japanese personnel boarded the ship to question the Chinese crew on suspicion of violating the fisheries law, Kyodo reported. (Link)
News reports are making a big deal out of this, but the language coming out of Beijing is actually rather restrained.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu later told a regular news briefing that “China expresses great concern over this incident”.
Beijing had made “solemn representations” to Tokyo stressing that the islands have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times, she said.
China has urged Japan to stop the “so-called law enforcement activities in the adjacent borders” and not do anything that might “jeopardise the safety of Chinese fishing boats and Chinese people”.
“We will keep a close eye on developments and reserve the right to make a further response,” Jiang added.
Yonakuni, a Hateruma-class patrol vessel, is based out of Ishigaki, on Okinawa. Mizuki was involved in a 2001 incident in which a North Korean spy ship was sunk after engaging the Japan Coast Guard with RPG fire.
In the last territorial dispute at sea made public, a Japan Coast Guard ship was chased out of waters claimed by Japan by a ship half it’s size.
A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch