(ANSA) – TOKYO, 04 JUL – A Chinese and a Russian warship were spotted today, just outside the Japanese territorial waters, around the Senkaku Islands, in the East China Sea. This was stated by the Tokyo government, explaining that a Chinese frigate sailed in the so-called contiguous area of the uninhabited islets, administered by Japan but claimed by Beijing, for about six minutes in the early hours of Monday morning, and subsequently a Russian frigate appeared that she remained in the area for just over an hour – officially to avoid a typhoon, a ministry official said.
At a press conference, Deputy Chief of Cabinet Seiji Kihara said the government filed a protest in Beijing.
This is the first time since June 2016 that Chinese and Russian naval ships have been spotted entering the contiguous zone simultaneously. Under international law, ships of any nation, including warships, have the right to sail through the contiguous waters of a coastal nation unless they threaten the security of that nation.
Over the years Japan has filed protests to China over the repeated “intrusions” of Chinese coast guard ships around the Senkaku Islands, and the recent strengthening of political and military ties between Moscow and Beijing is viewed by Tokyo with much apprehension. Tensions over the group of five uninhabited islets, called Diaoyu in China – which are 1,900 kilometers from Japan and less than a third from Shanghai, have been going on for years, and the debate over their sovereignty has been going on for several centuries. (HANDLE).