Japan Protests China’s New Air Defense Zone

Japan has lodged a strong protest with Beijing after China’s defense ministry released an air defense zone map for the East China Sea that includes islands controlled by Japan, but claimed by China.

In a phone call Saturday, Japan’s Junichi Ihara, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, protested to China’s acting ambassador to Japan, Han Zhiqiang, calling the zone “totally unacceptable.”

Ihara also criticized China for escalating bilateral tensions over the islands.

In a statement on its website Saturday, China’s defense ministry said that under a new set of rules, all aircraft entering the air defense zone must notify Chinese authorities and are subject to emergency military measures if they do not identify themselves or obey orders from Beijing. The statement said the rules went into effect on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Japan scrambled fighter jets in the East China Sea, after it spotted what it said was an unmanned aircraft flying toward Japan.

The islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Daioyu in China, are uninhabited, but surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potential energy deposits.

Japan annexed the islets in the late 19th century. China claimed sovereignty over the archipelago in 1971, saying ancient maps show it has been Chinese territory for centuries. VOA

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