China vessels sailed near Senkakus at record pace

The Japan Coast Guard says Chinese government vessels sailed just outside Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea at a record pace last year.

The coast guard says such vessels did so on 282 days in 2019. The figure is the highest since record keeping began in 2008.

The coast guard also says the number of such ships that entered Japan's territorial waters near the Senkakus totaled 126, up 56 from two years ago.

Japan controls the islands. The Japanese government maintains that they are an inherent part of Japan's territory. China and Taiwan claim them.

The coast guard says that last year it warned 1,308 North Korean fishing boats to leave Yamatotai, one of the best fishing grounds in the Sea of Japan. Many North Korean squid boats have been illegally operating in the area in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

The coast guard plans to step up security measures by increasing the number of large patrol vessels next fiscal year starting in April, to cope with tense situations in the waters around Japan.