MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Japan Times cited the headquarters of the regional coast guard in Okinawa as saying that three of China's coast guard ships had crossed into territorial waters claimed by Japan in the East China Sea off the northern coast of Taiwan early on Sunday.
The newspaper said this was the 13th such encounter in a series of incidents in 2015, but failed to specify whether Japanese aircraft had been scrambled in response, or whether the vessels had been escorted out of the area or had left themselves.
Japan has asserted its rights to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands since 1895, while China maintains that it has had sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands since as early as the 16th century. Nearby Taiwan also lays claim to the islands, where oil deposits were discovered in the 1970s.
In 2013, China unilaterally imposed an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, including over the disputed islands. Beijing demands that aircraft flying over the area must report their route and radio frequencies, a move condemned by the United States.
Tokyo has been Washington's closest ally in the Pacific since the end of World War II. In recent years, the US has shifted the focus of its strategic planning toward Asia under a new state policy of military deterrence aimed at China.