Powder Keg: Now Over 50 Taiwanese Vessels Challenge Japanese Claim to Islands (+video)

About 40 Taiwanese fishing boats and 12 patrol ships intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands on Tuesday morning to assert Taipei’s claim to the Japan-controlled chain.

The armada further intensified the territorial dispute that has already seen ties between Japan and China deteriorate.

It was the first time such a large number of foreign vessels has intruded into the territorial waters since the diplomatic row over Japan and China broke out last month.

The Taiwanese fishing ships started entering waters near the islands around 7:40 a.m., and had left the area by midday, according to Japan Coast Guard officials.

The coast guard repeatedly sought to prevent the Taiwanese ships from approaching the islets by spraying water over them.

But the accompanying Taiwanese patrol ships responded to the warnings by announcing that it is their right to operate in Taiwanese territorial waters, according to the Japan Coast Guard.

There were no major clashes between the Japanese and Taiwanese maritime authorities, but officials confirmed that three Taiwanese patrol ships had fired their water cannons at the Japanese patrol boats.

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Here’s a video of the confrontation: