Japan used a visit by the Chinese foreign minister on Wednesday to protest Beijing’s increased activity and what it calls infiltration around disputed East China Sea islands. Both sides agreed to avoid provocative actions in the contested area.
“The situation is extremely serious,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters after meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday for a two-day visit.
Relations between the two countries have been strained over territorial disputes and wartime history, even though ties have improved in recent years while China’s trade dispute with the US has escalated.
The territorial row in centred on Japanese-controlled East China Sea islands, which Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu. Chinese coast guard ships have stepped up activity around the islands despite protests and warnings by the Japanese authorities.
Kato said Japan’s government protested earlier Wednesday when Chinese ships entered Japan’s contiguous zone, just outside of its territorial waters, for the 306th time this year.