Tokyo [Japan], February 8 (ANI): China on Monday justified the intrusion of its coast guard vessels into Japan's territorial waters near the Tokyo-controlled, Beijing-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claiming that they are the country's "inherent territory."
According to Kyodo News, the Chinese government put into effect legislation allowing its coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships that it sees as illegally entering its waters, sparking fears that Japanese vessels navigating around the Senkakus would be targeted.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters that Beijing's patrol and legal enforcement activities" in the waters near the islets are "legitimate measures taken by China to safeguard sovereignty in accordance with the law."
Kyodo News further reported that Chinese coast guard ships on Sunday entered Japan's territorial waters around the islands for the second day in a row.
Tokyo lodged a protest against Beijing through multiple diplomatic channels on Saturday, after Chinese coast guard ships intruded into Japan's territorial waters near the Senkakus, called Diaoyu in China, for the first time since the new law took effect.
According to the Japan Coast Guard, two Chinese coast guard ships intruded into Japanese waters near the uninhabited islands around 4:45 am. Following the intrusion, the Japanese government set up a special team at the prime minister's office to analyse the situation, the officials said as reported by Kyodo News.
In the early 2010s, China and Japan were mired in a territorial row over the Senkakus. Beijing has rapidly built up artificial islands with military infrastructure in the region, claiming sovereignty over almost the entire maritime region.
Moreover, China has conflicting territorial claims with four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam -- as well as Taiwan in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, US warships carried out a freedom of navigation operations in an apparent bid to challenge Chinese claims and actions in the area. (ANI)