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Chinese ships sail near disputed islands

This hand out picture released by the Japan Coast Guard on August 6, 2016 shows the China coast guard ship 35104 sailing near the waters of disputed East China Sea islands. Japan on August 6, confirmed some 230 Chinese fishing vessels and six coast guard ships, including three apparently carrying arms, were sailing near the waters of disputed East China Sea islands, the government said. JAPAN COAST GUARD / AFP

This hand out picture released by the Japan Coast Guard on August 6, 2016 shows the China coast guard ship 35104 sailing near the waters of disputed East China Sea islands. Japan on August 6, confirmed some 230 Chinese fishing vessels and six coast guard ships, including three apparently carrying arms, were sailing near the waters of disputed East China Sea islands, the government said.<br />JAPAN COAST GUARD / AFP

Four Chinese vessels sailed into territorial waters around disputed islands in the East China Sea, Japan said Sunday, as Tokyo attempts to engage with Beijing to press North Korea over its latest nuclear test.

The four coastguard vessels sailed into waters surrounding the islands, administered as Senkaku by Japan and claimed as Diaoyu by China, at around 10:30 am (0130 GMT) and left about 90 minutes later, the Japan Coast Guard said.

The two countries are locked in a long-running dispute over the uninhabited islets. China regards them as its own, rejecting the view it violates Japan’s territorial waters.

The latest incident comes at a tense time for the region after Pyongyang conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test Friday, to the outrage of its neighbours and the international community.

Japan, the United States and South Korea have asked China — one of North Korea’s few allies — to use its leverage to persuade Pyongyang to comply with UN sanction resolutions.

Japan has routinely complained that China is escalating regional tensions by regularly sending ships to the island chain despite repeated protests from Tokyo.

Sunday was the first time the Chinese ships had sailed into the waters around the tiny islands since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Chinese President Xi Jinping last week at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China.

At the meet Xi and Abe sought to improve ties, with Xi saying the two should “put aside disruptions”. However the rapprochement only went so far, with the Chinese leader also urging Japan to “exercise caution” on territorial disputes.

Just weeks before the summit, hundreds of Chinese fishing boats, accompanied by government ships, had flooded into nearby waters, infuriating Tokyo.

Japan is boosting defence ties with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations, some of which have their own disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

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ChinaEast China SeaJapan


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