Japanese coast guard and Self-Defense Forces were on high alert following the first anniversary of Japan’s controversial purchase of islets in the disputed Senkaku chain.
Earlier in the week, Japan scrambled fighter jets after two Chinese Xian H-6 bombers flew over the main island of southern Okinawa and Miyakojima.
The aerial chase ensued after Japan said it had not ruled out stationing officials on the Senkakus, known as Diaoyu in China. Beijing warned in response that Japan “must be prepared to bear the consequences of this provocation.”
Several Chinese coast guard boats were seen near the islands, prompting Japan to tighten security in the waters.
Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said surveillance had been increased on the islands but gave no further details, according to the Associated Press.
Coastguard official Yuma Miyako also said they were on “high alert” for the anniversary of Japan’s nationalization of the islands.
Meanwhile, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated Japan’s claim to the islands.
“It has been evident the islands are Japan’s territory. We will maintain absolutely the same position that no dispute officially exists,” he said.
Bilateral relations have soured dramatically over the past 12 months, with frequent confrontations between the two nations’ ships in the contested waters.
Beijing claimed it had carried out 59 patrols since last September, each time being warned off by Japanese ships.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image of Uotsuri Island: Al Jazeera English/Flickr