Trends in China Coast Guard and Other Vessels in the Waters Surrounding the Senkaku Islands, and Japan's Response
September 14, 2021
- On May 7, 2008, then President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China, on his official visit to Japan, and then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda signed a joint statement between the Government of Japan and the Government of China on comprehensive promotion of “Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests”, and recognized that the Japan-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships for each of the two countries and that Japan and China now have great influence on and bear a solemn responsibility for peace, stability, and development of the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
- Only seven months later, on December 8 of that year, two Chinese government vessels made a sudden intrusion into Japan's territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands. Despite repeated calls by patrol vessels of the Japan Coast Guard to leave the area and strong protest lodged against China through diplomatic channels, the vessels hovered and drifted inside Japan's territorial sea for some nine hours until the evening of that day. The incident made clear China's new position concerning the Senkaku Islands, one that had never been observed before: Chinese government vessels intrude into Japan's territorial sea with the clear intention of violating the sovereignty of Japan, attempting to change the status quo through force or coercion.
- After a collision of a Chinese fishing boat into Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels in Japan's territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands on September 7, 2010, Chinese government vessels started to sail the waters surrounding the Islands more frequently than before. In August 2011, two Chinese government vessels intruded into Japan's territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands, preceding one in March 2012 and four in July that year.
- On September 11, 2012, the ownership of three of the Senkaku Islands (Uotsuri, Kitakojima and Minamikojima Islands) was transferred from private citizens to the Government of Japan in accordance with domestic Civil Code. From September 14, on the pretext of protesting the transfer, Chinese government vessels started to enter Japan's contiguous zone almost daily, except on stormy days. Furthermore, they repeatedly intrude into Japan's territorial sea, at a frequency of about three intrusions per month. (For details, see the chart above.) Such a situation is totally unacceptable to Japan. Each time Chinese government vessels intrude into Japan's territorial sea, on-site Japanese patrol vessels demand them to leave, and at the same time, the Japanese Government promptly lodges a strong protest against the Chinese Government through diplomatic channels, strongly demanding the vessels leave immediately and that China prevent such an incident from occurring again. (also, we need to continue keeping a close eye on Chinese movements, as China Coast Guard was incorporated into the People's Armed Police Force (PAP) in July 2018.)