10 years since Japan's govt. purchased some Senkaku Islands

Sunday marks 10 years since the Japanese government purchased some of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture from a private Japanese owner.

The government acquired ownership of three Senkaku islands in the East China Sea on September 11, 2012. It cited as a reason the need to maintain and manage the Senkaku Islands peacefully and stably on a long-term basis.

Japan controls the islands. China and Taiwan claim them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory, in terms of history and international law. It says there is no issue of sovereignty to be resolved over them.

Beijing reacted sharply to the transfer of ownership. Chinese government vessels have since entered Japanese territorial waters around the islands repeatedly.

In recent years, the Chinese ships have become larger and more heavily equipped with weapons.

The number of scrambles conducted by Japan's Self-Defense Forces against Chinese aircraft has more than quadrupled over the past 10 years. Japanese fighter jets were scrambled against Chinese planes 722 times during the last fiscal year, which ended in March.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa told reporters on Friday that the situation remains unpredictable. He added that the government is seriously concerned. Hayashi said Japan will stay vigilant and deal with the situation calmly and resolutely.

Last month, some ballistic missiles that were fired by the Chinese military during a drill fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone. The incident has further strained relations between the two countries.

The Chinese military conducted the exercises around Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.

Meanwhile, Japan and China will mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties on September 29. Japan is working to improve ties.

The head of Japan's National Security Secretariat, Akiba Takeo, and China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, agreed to try to establish constructive and stable bilateral relations last month.