By SHUN NIEKAWA/ Staff Writer
June 17, 2020 at 19:11 JST
A Japan Coast Guard patrol ship, foreground, monitors a China Coast Guard ship operating in the contiguous zone near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in 2018. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
A Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel observed four China Coast Guard ships in the contiguous zone just outside Japanese territorial waters off the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on the morning of June 17.
Chinese government ships have been operating in the contiguous zone daily since April 14 for a total of 65 consecutive days, marking the longest recorded period.
The previous record was 64 straight days between April and June last year.
In 2019, a total of 1,097 Chinese government ships operated in the contiguous zone over 282 days, setting a record high for both number of days they operated and the number of vessels involved.
In the same year, 126 ships intruded into Japanese territorial waters on 32 days, the second highest number of ships to make intrusions since 2013.
Forty Chinese ships have entered Japanese territorial waters on 11 days to date this year.
But entry by Chinese ships into the contiguous zone has far outpaced that in 2019. They appeared on 159 days by June 17. The Japan Coast Guard observed 532 Chinese ships entering the zone within that time.
The coast guard has been on alert since two China Coast Guard ships tailed Japanese fishing boats in waters near the Senkaku Islands between May 8 and 10.
On June 4, ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers submitted a strongly worded resolution calling on the government to vigorously protest China's repeated “stalking” of Japanese fishing boats in waters near the Senkaku Islands, over which both Japan and China claim sovereignty.
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