Japan politicos on disputed island; China protests
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Last Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 16:41
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.


First Published: Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 16:41

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