Beijing has protested to Tokyo after two Japanese politicians landed on the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea on Thursday, ahead of today's 75th anniversary of the start of the second Sino-Japanese war.
Hitoshi Nakama, from Ishigaki, Okinawa, and another politician went ashore on Bei Xiaodao, known as Kitakojima in Japanese, on Thursday afternoon, ignoring a Japanese coastguard warning.
'The illegal entry of the Japanese right-wing activists severely violates China's territorial sovereignty,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in Beijing yesterday. 'China has made solemn representations and protests to Japan.'
On Wednesday, Taiwan's coastguard blocked an attempt by its Japanese counterpart to board a Taiwanese fishing boat carrying three protesters sailing towards the disputed islands.
In April, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said he planned to buy three of the uninhabited Diaoyu Islands from a private Japanese investor and vowed to protect them, triggering strong protests from Beijing.
Mainland media carried reports this week on Taiwanese activists' campaign to visit waters near the disputed islands. The Global Times quoted one as saying they almost used a gun during their confrontation with the Japanese coastguard.
Despite the extensive coverage about the Taiwanese activists, their mainland counterparts said the authorities had asked them to keep their own campaign low key.
The activists plan to hold an event today commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge incident, a clash between Chinese and Japanese forces that is seen as marking the start of the second Sino-Japanese war, from 1937 to 1945.
One of the activists, Li Nan from Beijing, said the mainland authorities had hindered their attempts to buy a fishing boat to sail to the disputed islands since last month.
He said officials had told activists who managed a bank account that accepted donations for a ship purchase that they might find it difficult to get a job or stay in business.
Meanwhile, the People's Liberation Army plans to stage live-fire drills in the East China Sea next week. It has issued a notice that navigation and fishing in waters east of Zhoushan city, in Zhejiang, will be banned from next Tuesday to Sunday because of training involving 'real weapons '.
'All types of vessels are banned from entering the waters during the training period, and required to obey the commands of navy surveillance ships for safety reasons,' the Wenzhou Evening News quoted the notice as saying on Thursday.
Staff at the East China Sea Fishery Management Bureau said it was not aware of the reported military notice but the area in question was covered by a fishing ban anyway.
The drill is not being held close to Japan, but analysts said it is related to rising tensions. 'Beijing now wants to show that it will not give up its sovereignty over the Diaoyus,' said Zhou Yongsheng, a Japanese affairs expert at China Foreign Affairs University.