Tokyo/Beijing: Four Japanese politicians on Tuesday landed on an island in the East China Sea which is at the centre of territorial dispute with China, provoking a strong protest from Beijing.
A group of the municipal assembly of Ishigaki in
Okinawa, sailed to the uninhabited chain of islands, known as
Senkaku, controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, in the
East China Sea, Kyodo News agency said.
A Coast Guard patrol ship confirmed that Hitoshi Nakama
and two other members of the local assembly landed on Uotsuri
Island in the island chain at around 9:30 am (local time)
while the fourth member followed 20 minutes later.
They left the island at around 11:55 am, Kyodo quoted
Coast Guard as saying.
The action by the local Japanese politicians triggered an
official protest by China in Beijing which said that it
amounted to interference in Chinese territory.
According to reports, the Chinese were planning a
tit-for-tat landing with a group of pro-China activists headed
for the Islands onboard a boat bearing a Chinese flag.
Although the Ishigaki city government has administrative
jurisdiction over the uninhibited islands, the central
government has leased part of the land from Japanese
landowners and prohibits people from landing on them.
The Coast Guard is expected to question the
assemblymen after they return home.
The assembly members left Ishigaki Port on a fishing boat
at around 10:40 pm (local time) yesterday and landed on the
island while being watched by the patrol ship, according to
the Coast Guard.
The islands are claimed by China and Taiwan. They are
known as the Diaoyu islands in China.