A group of Hong Kong activists warned Monday they plan to take legal action against Japan for blocking their ship from sailing to disputed islands claimed by China and Japan.
The protesters made the threat after returning from an eight-day voyage to the Diaoyu Islands, called Senkaku by Japan. Japanese coast guard ships blocked the vessel from getting close to the islands in the East China Sea.
Activist Peter Ko said the trip was a success, even though the 25 protesters weren't able to hold a peaceful protest on the uninhabited islands, which are surrounded by rich fishing grounds. He said the trip helped symbolize China's sovereignty claims over the craggy islets that lie between Japan's southern island of Okinawa and Taiwan.
"This is a victory," said Ko, wearing a white T-shirt with red lettering reading, "We are outraged."
Ko said the activists' chartered ship was damaged when it collided with a Japanese coast guard vessel near the disputed islands. The activist said his group planned to file an unspecified lawsuit against the Japanese in a Beijing court.
The lawsuit would largely be symbolic since Japan has firmly opposed giving up its claims of sovereignty over the islands.
The Diaoyu dispute has long been popular cause among patriotic groups in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
The recent voyage marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Hong Kong activist David Chan Yuk-cheung, who drowned trying to land on the islands in 1996.
The islands are regularly occupied by nationalists from both sides.
Japan's coast guard said the Hong Kong ship came within 13 kilometers (eight miles) of the islands, despite warnings to stay away. Coast guard vessels also sprayed water at the ship with fire hoses.
Japan claimed the islands in 1895 when it colonized Taiwan, but the United States controlled them after World War II and returned them to Japan in 1972. Taiwan also claims the islands as its territory.