China protests over plans by Japanese group to visit near disputed islands

SHANGHAI Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:02am EDT

Chinese activists arrested on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law at a disputed island in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan or Diaoyu in China, are escorted by Japan Coast Guard crew members as they disembark from a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship at a port in Naha on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Kyodo

Chinese activists arrested on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law at a disputed island in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan or Diaoyu in China, are escorted by Japan Coast Guard crew members as they disembark from a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship at a port in Naha on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kyodo

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China lodged a formal protest with Japan on Saturday over plans by a Japanese nationalist group including lawmakers to hold a ceremony commemorating Japanese dead from World War Two near disputed islands in the East China Sea this weekend, state news agency Xinhua said.

The group of more than 100 people travelling in a flotilla of boats is expected to arrive near the islands on Sunday morning. Japan's government has denied the group permission to land on the islands.

The report said China had lodged "solemn representations" with Japan over the matter, a term official media uses to indicate a particularly high level of diplomatic opposition.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that China had urged the Japanese government to immediately "stop the action that seeks to undermine China's territorial sovereignty" over the rocky, uninhabited isles known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, Xinhua said.

Japan on Friday sent home Chinese activists who were detained on Wednesday after landing on one of the islands.

China welcomed the return of the activists, but also warned its neighbor against any further escalation in tension.

Japan occupied much of China during the war and colonised the Korean peninsula, resulting in territorial disputes that continue to dog relations with its neighbors nearly seven decades after the end of World War Two.

(Reporting by Pete Sweeney; Editing by Ed Lane)

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