China Urges Japan to Avoid 'Artificial' Incidents Near Disputed Islands

Japan China comment on vessels near Senkakus

Japan Thursday lodged an official protest with China, after it spotted a Chinese frigate in waters surrounding flashpoint islands in the East China Sea, the first such incursion in more than a year.

A foreign submarine was also detected in the contiguous waters near Japanese territory on Wednesday and Thursday, said the country's Defence Ministry, which believes that the submarine is also from China, as reported by local news agency Kyodo.

They say the submarine continued to move northwest and left the contiguous zone into the East China Sea without resurfacing. The sub exited the contiguous zone and headed toward the Senkakus on Thursday morning.

The crisis management mechanism, however, excludes Japan's territorial waters and air space around the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Beijing said it firmly opposed and was strongly dissatisfied with Japan's actions, which had "mixed up right and wrong", the statement said.

"We want to strongly urge China not to do anything to interfere with improving bilateral ties", Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a news conference Thursday. It then re-entered the contiguous zone around Taisho Island, which is part of the Senkakus, before leaving that afternoon.

"The [Diaoyu Islands] are a natural part of Chinese territory", Lu Kang, Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman, said Thursday, according to UPI. Therefore, the region of Northeast Asia and the East China Sea doesn't need heightened tensions between China and Japan - or China and Taiwan.

Also off Taisho Island, a Chinese Navy frigate reportedly entered the contiguous zone twice on Thursday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the incidents Thursday by giving instructions to prepare for all possible contingencies and to coordinate closely with the USA, according to a statement released by his Cabinet.

China routinely rejects Japanese criticism of such patrols, saying its ships have every right to operate in what China calls its territorial waters.

The warship and the submarine had left the waters by the afternoon, the defence ministry said in a statement. A Chinese frigate was last seen in the contiguous zone in June 2016.

"Two naval vessels of Japan's self-defense forces first entered the access zone", the Chinese spokesman said.

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