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Sat Feb 2, 2013 9:59AM
Parts of the disputed Senkaku islands, as known in Japan, or Diaoyu, as known in China (file photo)

Parts of the disputed Senkaku islands, as known in Japan, or Diaoyu, as known in China (file photo)

Japan's coastguard has stopped a Chinese fishing boat off Okinawa as tension is simmering between Tokyo and Beijing over a territorial dispute. According to the local branch of the Japan coastguard, the coral fishing boat with a crew of 13 was stopped by a coastguard patrol in waters some 46 kilometers (29 miles) northeast of Miyako Island. The island is located in the Okinawa Prefecture and lies 150 kilometers away from a chain of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries. China's Consulate General in the city of Fukuoka has confirmed the incident. The captain of the boat was detained on suspicion of fishing in the exclusive maritime zone without permission from Japan, the coastguard said. Japan and China have long been in a dispute over the sovereignty of the uninhabited islands which are located near a crucial shipping lane and would give the owner exclusive oil, mineral and fishing rights in the surrounding waters. The islands, which are controlled by Japan and form part of Okinawa prefecture, are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Meanwhile, Japan's prime minister vowed Saturday to defend the disputed remote islands from threats by China. "The security environment surrounding our country is increasingly becoming more severe as we face provocation to our territorial rights," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. "I will take the lead to stand up against the present danger and protect the people's lives and asset, as well as our land, the seas and the air at all costs." His comments were made in a speech to Japan's Self-Defense Forces in the country's south. On December 15, China presented the United Nations with detailed assertion as to its sovereignty over the islands. Tensions heightened between the two countries after Japan signed a deal on September 11, 2012 to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago. Hundreds of Chinese held anti-Japan demonstrations following the announcement. Chinese ships have also since been sailing around the islands, eliciting angry reaction from Japan. MSH/HN
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