Two Chinese military vessels intruded into Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkakus (Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture) on Dec. 26 and chased a fishing boat operated by Ishigaki City Council member Hitoshi Nakama (71). The following day, Nakama gave an interview to the Sankei Shimbun and described the tension he experienced as the Chinese ships sailed close behind his boat for over four hours and tried to approach further but were blocked by Japan Coast Guard (JCG) vessels that came between his fishing boat and the Chinese ships.
Nakama said he left Tonoshiro Port in Ishigaki City aboard his fishing boat at 9:00 a.m. on Dec. 26. He entered the contiguous zone of the Senkaku territorial waters around 2:30 p.m., at which point two JCG vessels appeared and accompanied his boat on both sides. Nakama said he felt something was wrong, as such a maneuver is unusual. A little later, two large Chinese military vessels appeared and tried to approach the Nakama’s boat. The Chinese vessels chased his boat into the territorial waters sometime after 4:00 p.m. and tried to close in, but the JCG ships skillfully maneuvered in the rough waters and repeatedly blocked the attempts by the Chinese to draw near.
When Nakama’s boat left the contiguous waters sometime past 8:00 p.m., the Chinese ships left the area as well and disappeared into the night. “I have been to the Senkakus to fish many times,” Nakama said, “But this encounter felt much more dangerous and intense than anything I have experienced in the past. I want to thank the JCG ships that were determined to protect my boat as part of their mission.”