China Coast Guard Enters Japan's Maritime Claims
On July 5, Japanese media reported that three China Coast Guard ships crossed into waters claimed by Japan near the disputed Senkaku Islands.
The incursion reportedly occured at 1000 hours on Tuesday morning; the vessels, including one allegedly armed with guns, stayed in Japanese-claimed waters for about two hours, Japan Coast Guard told Japan Today. It is not the first instance of Chinese government vessels entering the region in recent months.
The report came the day after China's defense ministry confirmed that two of its fighter jets had had a close encounter with two Japanese fighters over the East China Sea. The ministry said in a statement that the Japanese aircraft approached at high speed in a "provocative" manner and the Chinese pilots took "tactical measures" in response. The ministry also claimed that the Japanese planes used fire-control radar to "light up" the Chinese aircraft.
"The Japanese plane's provocative actions [endangered] the safety of personnel on both sides, destroying the peace and stability in the region," China's Defence Ministry said, adding the Chinese aircraft "responded resolutely".
Japanese defense officials denied that their fighters locked onto the Chinese jets with fire control radar.
The encounter also took place near the Senkaku Islands. China set up an East China Sea air defense identification zone in 2013 (an ADIZ, after the North American equivalent) over the disputed chain, requiring advance notice for aircraft entering the area – a measure that has increased tensions in the region and prompted considerable protest, especially from the U.S. and Japan.
Japan is concerned that China is escalating its activity in the East China Sea in response to Tokyo's pledge to support countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Vietnam, that oppose China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. The International Court of Arbitration in the Hague is due to rule next week on whether these claims are consistent with the Convention on the Law of the Sea; the ruling is not expected to be favorable for China, and China’s government is not expected to abide by the court’s decision.