TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Saturday afternoon, March 23, the Japanese Coast Guard discovered a Chinese research vessel trespassing in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
The incursion, which occurred near Okinatori Atoll, far to the south of the main Japanese archipelago, prompted Tokyo to file an official protest with Beijing, reports Japan Today.
The research vessel was reportedly spotted by a Coast Guard aircraft around 12:30 p.m. The Chinese ship did not respond to the Coast Guard’s orders or attempts at communication.
The Chinese ship remains unidentified and its purpose for approaching the ocean feature remains unknown.
Japan Today reports that similar instances have occurred around Oninatori atoll as recently as last December.
China reportedly rejects Japanese claims to the territory, challenging the feature’s designation as an “island” by the Japanese government.
The feature includes 8,842 square meters of shoal area, with only three small encased areas above sea level, constituting just 9.44 square meters of land. There is also a research facility on a stilt platform that was constructed in 1988.
(Wikimedia Commons Image)