The Japan Coast Guard could directly fire a weapon against foreign official vessels aiming to land on the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, local media reported citing ruling party members on Thursday.
Japanese government officials told a panel of the Liberal Democratic Party they have confirmed their interpretation of existing laws, Kyodo News reported. This comes weeks after China implemented a new law that allows the coastguard to use weapons against foreign ships that Beijing sees as illegally entering its waters.
Japenese officials had said earlier Japan’s coastguard is only allowed to fire weapons directly at foreign vessels in cases of self-defence and emergency escape.
The officials explained the confirmed interpretation at a meeting of the panel, saying it is possible for Japan’s coastguard to fire on foreign official vessels under laws by regarding vessels aiming to land on the islands – known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands – as committing violent crimes.
The islands in question have long been an object of territorial disputes between China and Japan.
Recently, Japan lodged a protest with China after two Chinese ships intruded into Japanese coastal waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, local media reported.