East China Sea Tensions Rise: Russia Has a Role as a Mediator

Source: Peter KORZUN 

The conflict over disputed islands in the Asia Pacific is once more right in the international media spotlight.

Tokyo protested to Beijing after a Chinese frigate entered waters near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea. Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman Yoshitomo Mori said a Japanese Navy destroyer detected the Chinese ship as it entered the contiguous zone – an area stretching 24 nautical miles out from the edge of territorial waters – around the Senkaku, also known as Diaoyu, islands, on June 9.

Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saeki summoned China’s ambassador, Chen Yonghua, to lodge a protest «with serious concern», and demand that the Chinese military ship leave the area immediately.

«We are worried that this action raises tensions to a higher level», Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular press briefing in Tokyo. «Related ministries are working together to deal with this and we will work closely with the US», Suga noted.

China’s Defense Ministry responded that its navy had every right to operate in Chinese waters.

The incidents come as Japan, the United States and India launched a major joint naval exercise, dubbed Malabar, from June 10 in the nearby Western Pacific.

While the US has not endorsed Tokyo’s territorial claim to the islands, it has said the Japanese-controlled territory falls under its security treaty with Tokyo that obligates Washington to defend Japan against an attack.