A short walk on a forbidden island disputed by China and Japan has brought a formal diplomatic protest from Beijing.
Japanese local officials made a two-hour visit to one of the uninhabited islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The territory in the East China Sea is claimed by both countries, for traditional reasons, fishing and potential rich hydrocarbon deposits.
In late 2010, Japan arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain near the disputed islands; the Japanese visitors’ vessel returned unhindered to port.
A representative from the Okinawa region said he wanted to draw attention to unresolved problems in the new year.
The Chinese foreign ministry objected strongly. A spokesman said Beijing had lodged a stern protest with Tokyo, reiterating his government’s claim of sovereignty over the islands, ever since ancient times.
Around a dozen activists put out from Hong Kong bound for the cluster of eight barren islets, to press their cause.