Chinese coastguard ships enter Japanese waters north of Kyushu island for the first time

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 9:48am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 9:51am

Two Chinese coastguard ships briefly entered Japanese waters on Saturday around two islands off the southwestern main island of Kyushu, in the first confirmed entry by Chinese government vessels into the area, the Japan Coast Guard said.

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, vessels of every country have the right to sail through territorial seas as long as they do not harm the safety of the countries concerned.

The Japan Coast Guard asked the ships to leave the territorial waters, though it did not make clear whether it considered their presence an intrusion.

According to the coastguard, it was notified by the Defence Ministry that one Chinese coastguard ship entered territorial waters near the southern tip of Tsushima Island around 11.50am.

The ship left the waters around 12.20pm after the coastguard called on the ship to leave by radio.

But the coastguard confirmed this ship and another Chinese vessel entered waters some 19km north of Okinoshima Island around 3.50pm. The two exited the waters soon after 5pm, the coastguard said.

Tsushima Island is located about half way between the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula and the northwest coast of Kyushu, Japan’s westernmost main island.

Chinese ships often enter Japanese territorial waters around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, a group of uninhabited islets known as the Senkakus in Japan and controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

Earlier this month, Okinoshima Island was added to Unesco’s World Heritage list. The whole area belongs to Munakata Taisha Shrine, and entrance by general citizens is tightly restricted.