Beijing protests after Japan lawmakers visit disputed islands


The remote chain of islands is the scene of regular confrontations between Japanese coast guard vessels and Chinese fishing boats. - PHOTO: ST FILE

TOKYO (AFP): Beijing has lodged a protest with Tokyo after a group of Japanese lawmakers visited a disputed island chain, with the Chinese embassy on Sunday denouncing the trip as "provocative".

The five-member delegation led by former defence minister Tomomi Inada joined local government officials in conducting a maritime inspection on Saturday in the East China Sea around the Japan-administered Senkaku islands, known by Beijing as the Diaoyu.

"Diaoyu Dao and affiliated islands are China's inherent territory," a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Tokyo said, according to a statement posted on its website Sunday.

"In response to Japan's infringing and provocative actions, China has lodged solemn representations to the Japanese side."

The remote chain of islands has long fuelled tensions and is the scene of regular confrontations between Japanese coast guard vessels and Chinese fishing boats.

Beijing has grown more assertive about its claim to the islands in recent years, with Tokyo reporting the presence of Chinese coast guard vessels, a naval ship and even a nuclear-powered submarine.

"I find it difficult to forgive that China's coast guard is entering these territorial waters as if it owns them," Inada told Japanese media from the survey ship.

The hours-long inspection, arranged by the southern Japanese city of Ishigaki in the Okinawa region, saw the MPs use a drone to examine one of the islands, public broadcaster NHK said. - AFP

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