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Japanese Activists Land on Disputed Islands in Japan-China Row

RIA Novosti

09:53 19/08/2012

MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) - A group of Japanese nationalists has landed on a chain of uninhabited islands claimed both by China and Japan amid an escalating territorial dispute between the two countries, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

A fleet of around 150 Japanese activists and 21 vessels departed from the Ishigaki city on Saturday and reached Japan's controlled Senkaku islands, called Diaoyu in China.

The move comes after Japan arrested 14 Chinese nationals, including activists from Hong Kong, and deported them on Friday over a protest landing on Uotsuri, the largest of a group of disputed islets, straining Japan’s ties with China, Kyodo news agency reported.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry lodged a protest on Saturday over the planned island visit and demanded that Japan “immediately stop the action that seeks to undermine China's territorial sovereignty.”

Thousands of people in a number of Chinese cities, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Harbin and Qingdao, took to the streets on Sunday morning to protest against the Japanese activists' landing on the Diaoyu Islands.

The disputed islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Taiwan, lie on a vital shipping route and are surrounded by large hydrocarbon deposits beneath them.

Japan says it has controlled the islands since 1895 until its surrender at the end of World War II. The islands were controlled by the United States from 1945 to 1972 and subsequently returned to Japan’s control. China claims the islands’ discovery and control since the 14th century.

China and Taiwan started to lay claims on the islands in the 1970s when surveys showed the area was rich in hydrocarbons.

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