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Japan Says 'regrettable' As China's Naval Helicopter Flies Near Its Research Ship In EEZ

A Chinese naval helicopter approached a Japanese research ship within the country's exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea, Japan's Fisheries Agency said


Image: ANI/Japan Fisheries Agency

A Chinese naval helicopter entered Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea, reported Japan's Kyodo News citing its Fisheries Agency on Friday. The helicopter reportedly was approaching a Japanese research ship. The Japanese government in response called the incident regrettable and urged Beijing through a diplomatic channel to prevent any similar occurrences in the future.

Coming from behind the Yoko Maru of the fisheries research and education agency, the helicopter reached a point roughly 150-200 meters from the vessel and more than 30 meters above the sea in waters northwest of Okinawa around 10:47 am (local time) Friday before flying away, the Fisheries Agency said.

The Japanese ship was doing fisheries resource research in the EEZ, which extends some 370 kilometers from the Japanese coastline, at the time of the incident. Each country can develop natural resources, build islands and apply domestic law regarding issues such as fisheries within its exclusive economic zone, which is defined under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Not the first time this month

Earlier this month, a Chinese navy survey vessel on February 12 entered Japan's territorial waters near islands close to the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima, the latest confirmed sighting of Chinese ships in the area since December, reported Kyodo news citing Japan's Defense Ministry.

A survey ship crossed into Japanese waters from southwest of Yakushima Island in the prefecture at around 2:30 am (local time), the ministry said, marking the seventh entry by a Chinese survey vessel into waters off Kagoshima since November 2021.

The Japanese government expressed concern about the ship's actions to Beijing through diplomatic channels, the ministry said. The vessel sailed out of the territorial waters near Kuchinoshima Island, about 50 kilometers southwest of Yakushima, at around 4:10 am (local time).

Chinese ships have repeatedly entered Japan's territorial waters or sailed through adjacent areas, most notably near the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets controlled by Japan but claimed by China under the name Diaoyu.

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