Apparent China sub, warship approach waters near Senkakus

China Urges Japan to Avoid 'Artificial' Incidents Near Disputed Islands

Japan's Defense Ministry says a foreign submarine was sailing underwater in the contiguous zone just outside territorial waters in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday and Thursday.

Japan lodged a protest with its neighbor after the submarine and the Chinese vessel approached what Tokyo considers as its territorial waters around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, Japan's Defense Ministry said.

A foreign submarine was also detected in the same area on Wednesday as well as on Thursday, according to Japan's Defense Ministry.

Japan's vice minister for foreign affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua to voice Tokyo's concerns, as the two Asian giants explore ways to ease bilateral tensions, complicated by North Korea's nuclear and missile drive.

Japan and China have always been at loggerheads over the tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Lu also said Japanese actions in the East China Sea "cannot change the objective fact the Diaoyutai belong to China". It then re-entered the contiguous zone around Taisho Island, which is part of the Senkakus, before leaving that afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Chinese frigate was spotted in the contiguous zone near the isle on Thursday morning. It left Thursday afternoon.

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"We want to strongly urge China not to do anything to interfere with improving bilateral ties", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the incidents Thursday by giving instructions to prepare for all possible contingencies and to coordinate closely with the USA, according to a statement released by his Cabinet. "China's decision to guard the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai territory is unshaken".

In a news conference on Thursday, Lu Kang, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, declared that the islands were a part of Beijing's territory and warned Japan to stop complicating the issue, reported NHK World.

Maritime confrontations and jet interceptions between China and Japan have become commonplace in recent years, especially around the Senkakus.

"Two naval vessels of Japan's self-defense forces first entered the access zone", the Chinese spokesman said.

The ministry is closely monitoring the submarine's move and collecting information.

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