Japan to launch coastguard unit of 10 patrol boats for disputed isles
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's coastguard said on Tuesday it would create a special unit comprising 10 new large patrol boats to boost its surveillance of an island chain at the centre of a territorial row with China.
The force, to be completed over three years, will consist of about 600 personnel and include an additional pair of existing helicopter-carrier vessels that are to be refitted, a coastguard spokesman said.
Chinese government ships have regularly circled the Tokyo-administered islands - known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China - and entered Japanese territorial waters since Tokyo nationalised some of the chain in September, stoking a flare-up in the long-running sovereignty row.
Japanese patrol boats, mostly from the Japan Coast Guard's Okinawan branch, have tried to chase away the Chinese ships in waters of the East China Sea.