Chinese vessels spotted near Senkaku Islands for a record 352 days in 2023, entering the contiguous zone

The 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha reported that on Sunday morning, four China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels were observed sailing in the contiguous zone, approximately 22 km outside territorial waters, off the coast of Minami-Kojima Island and Taishojima Island in the Senkaku Islands, Okinawa Prefecture. This marks the 352nd day this year that CCG vessels have been spotted in the contiguous zone, setting a new record for annual incursions since the Senkaku Islands were nationalized in 2012. This surpasses the previous record of 336 days in 2022, reflecting an increase of 16 days.

Tensions between Japan and China over the disputed Senkaku Islands have been ongoing for years, with both countries claiming sovereignty over the territory. The increased presence of CCG vessels in the area has raised concerns and exacerbated tensions between the two nations.

The Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu Islands in China, have been a point of contention, with both countries asserting historical and legal claims to the remote islands. The strategic location and potential natural resources around the Senkaku Islands have further heightened the dispute, making it a sensitive geopolitical issue in the region.

The consistent presence of CCG vessels in the contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands has been viewed as a deliberate and provocative act by China, as it challenges Japan’s administration of the territory. The repeated incursions have raised concerns about potential clashes and escalations in the region, posing a significant security challenge for Japan.

The Japanese government has repeatedly protested against the repeated presence of CCG vessels in the area, emphasizing Japan’s sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. In response to the heightened tensions, Japan has reinforced its security measures and increased patrols in the area to deter further provocations.

The continuous violation of Japan’s territorial waters and incursions into the contiguous zone by CCG vessels have strained diplomatic relations between Japan and China. The escalating tensions have raised concerns about the potential for military confrontation and the need for diplomatic efforts to address the long-standing dispute over the Senkaku Islands.

As the situation in the East China Sea continues to evolve, the international community is closely monitoring the developments and urging both Japan and China to exercise restraint and seek peaceful resolutions to their territorial disputes. The increasing frequency of CCG vessels near the Senkaku Islands underscores the need for diplomatic dialogue and conflict resolution mechanisms to prevent further destabilization in the region.

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