Japan says armed Chinese vessel enters Japan waters

Japan says armed Chinese vessel enters Japan waters

TOKYO - Reuters
Japan says armed Chinese vessel enters Japan waters

(FILES) This file handout picture taken and released by the Japan Coast Guard on December 22, 2015 shows a Chinese Coast Guard ship near disputed islets, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea. A Chinese coast guard ship which appeared to be armed with several cannon on December 26 entered what Tokyo regards as its territorial waters near disputed islands, the Japan Coast Guard said. AFP PHOTO / FILES / JAPAN COAST GUARD

A Chinese coastguard vessel with what appeared to be gun turrets entered territorial waters claimed by Japan in the East China Sea, Japan’s coastguard said on Dec. 26, adding that it was the first such incursion by an armed Chinese vessel in the disputed area. 

The vessel was one of three that appeared in the waters off the disputed Senkaku Islands, known in China as the Diaoyus, shortly after 9:30 a.m. and left Japanese-claimed waters about 70 minutes later, a Japan coastguard spokeswoman said. 

The vessel had first been sighted in the area on the afternoon of Dec. 22 and was sailing 29 km (18 miles) off one of the contested islands as of 9:00 a.m. on Dec. 23, according to Japan’s coastguard. 

At that time, China said its vessels were carrying standard equipment and doing nothing wrong in Chinese waters. 

Chinese coastguard vessels sail regularly near the islets but the Japanese coastguard spokeswoman said none had ever been seen equipped with arms. 

The dispute over the Japan-controlled islands has been a major sticking point in the two countries’ often contentious relations in recent years.