Japan prepared to attack foreign ships near Senkaku Islands

The Japanese Coast Guard intends to open fire at foreign vessels should they approach the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands in the East China Sea, Kyodo News reports. This archipelago is the subject of a territorial dispute between Japan, Taiwan (Republic of China) and China (People's Republic of China).

Members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) announced that the Japanese military were prepared to open fire with intent to kill.

The government also previously stated that the Japanese Coast Guard was allowed to open fire at foreign ships either for self-defense purposes or to detain an intruder. Later, however, at a meeting with the participation of members of the government, it was clarified that the military could open fire on the ships that "demonstrate intention" to approach the coast of the Senkaku Islands, as this is regarded by the Japanese authorities as a "violent crime."

This formulation was used in connection with the fact that the Japanese Constitution proclaims renunciation of war and transition to defensive policy. In this regard, the use of weapons against foreign ships and their crews was considered illegal.

According to LDP member Taku Otsuki, who heads the party's national defense commission, this is the first time when the government has authorized attacks on foreign ships to prevent landing on Japanese territory.

It is worthy of note that on February 1, the authorities of the People's Republic of China adopted a new law that allows the Chinese coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships and capture them if they illegally enter PRC's territorial waters.

Last year, Chinese Coast Guard vessels would enter Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands twice a month, Tokyo said. After the adoption of the new law, the number of such violations increased to two incidents per week, the Japanese Coast Guard said.

On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that tensions in the Indo-Pacific region were rising. According to him, unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the region continue. Yet, the official did not specify that his remarks were addressed to China.

On February 20, Japan declared a strong protest to China in connection with the entry of its ships into territorial waters in the area of ​​the Senkaku Islands.

Last year, Chinese ships entered the area adjacent to the islands 333 times, which was a record. At the same time, Chinese ships entered the territorial waters of Japan in this area 24 times. In October, Chinese ships spent a total of more than 57 hours in the territorial waters  of Japan near Senkaku, RIA Novosti reported.

The Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China) are the subject of a territorial dispute between China and Japan. Japan claims to have occupied them since 1895, whereas Beijing reminds that on Japanese maps of 1783 and 1785 the Diaoyu (Senkaku) islands were designated as Chinese territory. After World War II, the islands were staying under the control of the United States and were ceded to Japan in 1972. Taiwan and mainland China believe that Japan is holding them illegally.