The Straits Times
Published on Sep 21, 2012

Taiwan ship nears disputed isles: Japan coastguard


TOKYO (AFP) - A protest ship from Taiwan joined around a dozen Chinese vessels in waters near Japan-administered islands on Friday as a territorial row simmered.

The Taiwan-registered ship was spotted 44km off Uotsurijima, the largest island in a group known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Japan controls the islands though China and Taiwan also claim ownership.

"This ship is not a government-owned vessel. By speakers and wireless communications we are warning the ship not to enter our territorial waters," a spokesman for the coastguard's Okinawa branch said by telephone. "The ship is insisting that the islands are part of their territory. They told us not to stand in their way."

Banners reading "Protect Diaoyu" and "Get back Diaoyu" in Chinese were seen on board, the coastguard said in a press release.