by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 7, 2012
Four Chinese government ships sailed into the territorial waters of disputed islands controlled by Tokyo in the East China Sea on Friday, Japan's coastguard said.
The maritime surveillance vessels entered the 12-nautical-mile zone around Kubashima, one of the islands in the chain called the Senkakus by Japan and the Diaoyus by China, shortly before 1:00 pm (0400 GMT).
Chinese vessels have been spotted in and around the territorial waters almost every day for the last two months.
Beijing on Monday branded a US-Japan security treaty "a product of the Cold War" when Washington lawmakers reiterated their support for Japan by passing amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill.
The amendment noted that while the United States "takes no position" on the ultimate sovereignty of the territory, it "acknowledges the administration of Japan over the Senkaku Islands".
The sovereignty of the islands has been a source of friction for decades, but the row erupted earlier this year after the nationalist governor of Tokyo said he wanted to buy them for the city, prompting the Japanese government to nationalise them.
Philippines puts off South China Sea talks
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam had been scheduled to meet on Wednesday but China, which wants disputes settled bilaterally, had not been invited.
But Foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters: "It will not happen this coming December 12... because of scheduling problems. But the parties are working on" coming up with a new date.
He said he was unaware of any pressure being applied by Beijing to scuttle the Manila meeting.
The meeting of deputy foreign ministers had been part of Philippine efforts to push for a multilateral solution to the disputes.
China claims most of the sea including waters close to the shores of its neighbours.
Taiwan, like China, claims most of the sea, which includes some of the world's most important shipping lanes and is believed to be rich in fossil fuels.
Tensions have increased steadily over the past two years, with the Philippines and Vietnam accusing China of increasingly aggressive diplomatic tactics to stake its claims.
Relations between the Philippines and China have become particularly tense since patrol vessels by both countries engaged in a stand-off over the Scarborough Shoal in April.
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