Japan protests fleet of Chinese ships near disputed islands

TOKYO, Aug. 6 (UPI) — Officials in Japan have protested to Chinese diplomats after a fleet of Chinese ships sailed near a group of islands in the East China Sea on Saturday.

According to the BBC, 230 vessels, including fishing boats and coast guard ships, sailed near the Senkaku Islands. The islands are administered by Japan but also claimed by China, where they are known as the Diaoyu Islands.

Japan’s foreign ministry said as many as four of the ships appeared to be armed and called for their immediate withdrawal in a protest to Beijing, Al Jazeera reports.

“Japan can never accept activities by [Chinese] official vessels near the Senkaku islands because it will unilaterally escalate the situation and raise tensions in the area,” the ministry said in a statement.

As part of a separate incident on Saturday, China sent fighter jets and bombers to patrol an airspace above a group of disputed islands in the South China sea.

Japanese vice foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama also called China’s ambassador Cheng Yonghu to Tokyo to protest a similar incident involving Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels intruding in Japanese waters on Friday.

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