A row between Japan and China over disputed islands has taken another dramatic twist.
A team of Japanese surveyors have sailed to the area on the orders of Tokyo’s governor who wants to buy them from their private owners. The national government rejected their request to land.
But the leader of the team, Seiichiro Sakamaki, was not too downhearted: “The governor has asked what can be done to build a small harbour. We just wanted to check the islands with that in mind,” he said.
Chinese state TV reacted by describing the surveying mission as “the latest provocative move that infringes on Chinese territory.”
The islands are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. They lie on a vital shipping route and are surrounded by gas deposits.
Relations between the two countries plummetted last month after activists engaged in tit-for-tat protests. Japanese nationalists raised their flag in response to a similar move by pro-Beijing demonstrators. This in turn led to large protests in cities across China in which Japanese property was attacked.