Japan mulls long-term plan for Diaoyu Islands

Japan mulls long-term plan for Diaoyu Islands

By Mei Jingya, Sina English

Japan is preparing long-term responses to Chinese patrols near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, Jiji press reported.

The Japanese report claimed Chinese planes and ships have been "constantly present" around the islands, with some have "entered Japan's airspace and waters".

Japan "spotted one or more Chinese ships around the islands or surrounding contiguous zone on 92 days last year, over eight times the previous year's level", according to the Japan Coast Guard's 11th regional headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.

Seeing the need for long-term surveillance, the Japan Coast Guard plans to form a special patrol unit comprising 12 ships. The unit won't be established until April 2015, at the earliest, and outlays for six of the ships will be sought from the fiscal 2012 extra budget.

"We cannot rule out the possibility that China may use paramilitaries and trawlers to block the operations of Japan Coast Guard ships," a Japanese official said.

On Jan. 5, China's State Oceanic Administration sent a Y-12 propeller plane into the air defense ID zone near the Diaoyu Islands, causing Japan to scramble fighter jets.

"There is a strong danger of accidental contact developing into a contingency situation," a senior Japanese official warned.

In a recent editorial, the Global Times of China warned that a confrontation between Chinese and Japanese jets will happen if Japan keeps blocking patrols by Chinese planes.

The Japanese Defense Ministry is considering procuring Global Hawk surveillance planes for deployment to the East China Sea because a key radar facility in Okinawa Prefecture "cannot detect Chinese aircraft flying at very low altitudes".