Report: Japan to deploy enhanced patrol boats to deter Chinese vessels

TOKYO, Oct. 10 (UPI) — Japan is implementing stricter measures against Chinese fishing boats that may enter Japanese territorial waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Tokyo plans to deploy nine patrol vessels from November to 2018, and to quadruple existing manpower and equipment for monitoring, Japanese television network NHK reported Monday.

According to the Japanese coast guard, the number of Chinese boats in violation of maritime law has increased.

The coast guard said in 2015 it counted 99 boats in Japan-claimed waters. In 2016, that number increased to 135 boats that were occupying 70 percent of total fishing areas.

Japan began building three patrol boats in 2014 in response to the rising number of Chinese boats near the Senkakus, also known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China. All three boats are to be eventually deployed from the Miyako Islands of Okinawa Prefecture, starting in November.

The new boats have been built to withstand impact from collisions with fishing boats, and come with improved monitoring technology, according to NHK.

The patrol vessels include rear windows in the steering room for better navigation and are capable of an omnidirectional 360-degree probe of its surroundings.

Plans are also underway for the construction of a 6,500-ton patrol boat that can be equipped with a helicopter.

Chinese boats fishing illegally in Japanese waters reached a peak in 2014, when the coast guard estimates about 208 vessels were in areas claimed by Tokyo.

Guards on Senkaku patrol are also to be increased from 55 to 200 by March 2019, according to the report.

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