TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan said on Thursday a Chinese ship had violated its sovereign rights by approaching a Japanese survey vessel earlier this week in a disputed area of the East China Sea.
Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest, the Foreign Ministry said.
The latest spat between the two Asian neighbours follows a separate protest last month over a Chinese helicopter that flew too close to a Japanese destroyer.
The incident took place on Monday about 320 km (200 miles) northwest off Amami Oshima island, southern Japan, in waters that Tokyo claims as its exclusive economic zone, the Japanese Coast Guard said in a statement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said the Chinese ship was acting within its rights.
“It’s totally legitimate for a Chinese maritime survey vessel to undertake law-enforcement activities in these seas,” she was quoted as saying by China’s official media.
While ties between Japan and China have warmed in recent years, territorial disputes occasionally flare up as the two neighbours seek to secure exclusive economic zones in the region’s waters, thought to be rich in oil and minerals.
Reporting by Yoko Kubota and Linda Sieg in Tokyo, Chris Buckley in Beijing; Editing by Nick Macfie
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