Japan summons China envoy for 1st time under PM Abe
Reuters and AFPTOKYO -- Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador Tuesday for the first time under the new nationalist government to “strongly protest” against the presence of official ships in waters around disputed islands.
January 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
The foreign ministry said it told China to stop sending the vessels to the area around a chain controlled by Japan under the name Senkakus, but claimed by China as the Diaoyus.
Deputy minister for foreign affairs Akitaka Saiki met with Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua from around 11:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) to protest against Beijing's dispatching of four ships Monday, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry on Monday lodged a protest with the Chinese embassy by telephone.
It summoned Cheng Tuesday for the first time since conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power on Dec. 26 with promises of assertive diplomacy to confront a confident China.
The ministry last summoned acting Chinese ambassador Han Zhiqiang on December 13 to file a strong protest after Beijing sent an airplane to the area. Japan scrambled fighter jets in response.
It was the first incursion by a Chinese state aircraft into Japanese airspace anywhere since Tokyo's military began monitoring in 1958.
In the meeting on Tuesday, Saiki “strongly protested over the Chinese public vessels' entry and staying for a long time inside Japanese territorial waters, as well as strongly demanded that such incidents do not happen again,” the foreign ministry statement said.
Cheng responded by reiterating China's claim over the islands, but said he will report Japan's protest to Beijing, the foreign ministry said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered his defense minister on Tuesday to strengthen surveillance around islands at the heart of a territorial feud with China, Kyodo news agency reported.
The ships entered the area around noon on Monday and left in the early hours of Tuesday, the officials said.
China's State Oceanic Administration confirmed four Chinese marine surveillance ships were patrolling waters near the islands.
But China routinely maintains such ships are in Chinese waters and a Chinese official accused Japan of intrusion.
“Japan has continued to ignore our warnings that their vessels and aircraft have infringed our sovereignty,” the Communist Party chief of China's marine surveillance corps, Sun Shuxian, said in an interview posted on the Oceanic Administration's website.
“This behaviour may result in the further escalation of the situation at sea and has prompted China to pay great attention and vigilance,” Sun was quoted as saying.