Four China Coast Guard vessels entered waters near disputed islands that Japan currently administers the Japan Coast Guard said in the first incursion of 2018.
The violation took place near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which both Japan and China claim as their own.
“The vessels, including one equipped with what appeared to be machine guns, entered the waters around the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea at around 9:50 a.m. and left about 90 minutes later after warned off by the Japan Coast Guard,” according to a Japanese media report.
The last Chinese incursion was Dec. 30. Chinese coast guard and fishing trawlers regularly violate Japanese-administered waters around the islands, further inflaming tensions.
The Japanese government nationalized the islands in 2012 in order to prevent ultranationalist former governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara from acquiring them. The decision substantially raised tensions between Tokyo and Beijing, and they have been simmering since, though there has been some effort lately to tamp down tensions and open lines of communication regarding the disputed islands. [source]
(Analyst comment: As China rises it will become increasingly aggressive in asserting its claims over territory long believed to have been wrongly taken from it. The continual incursions into waters administered or claimed by other nations is an attempt to ‘normalize’ them, thereby making claims for them appear legitimate. The tactic is also being used to normalize outsized claims to the South China Sea, as well as claims against Taiwan, the latter of which Beijing considers nothing more than a renegade province.
Japan will not simply relinquish its claims, and Taiwan won’t voluntarily submit to Beijing’s control, leaving China little choice but to resort to military force at some point if it seriously wants to enforce its claims.)