China to boost activity to assert sovereignty over East China Sea islets – Kyodo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping has instructed the coast guard to strengthen its activities to assert sovereignty over the East China islets, which are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday.

In response to the order, which the report said was issued by Xi in November, the coast guard has drawn up a plan to send ships on daily patrols during 2024 near the islets, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The coast guard vessels will also be charged with conducting on-site inspections of Japanese fishing vessels if necessary, Kyodo said, citing unnamed sources.

No one was immediately available for comment at Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

Japan’s ties with China have long been plagued by the territorial dispute over the group of tiny, uninhabited islets.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reiterated Japan’s serious concerns over the matter when he held talks with Xi in the United States in November, the Japanese government said at the time.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Neil Fullick and Helen Popper)