A torn apart Japanese 'Rising Sun' flag is placed on dead fish during a demonstration in front of the Japan Exchange Association over the continued diplomatic Senkaku Islands dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.
Credit: SAM YEH

Japanese police have arrested five activists who sailed from Hong Kong to a highly disputed chain of islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

On Sunday the group of pro-China activists were surrounded by Japanese coast guard vessels as they attempted to land in the Islands. According to the BBC, seven of the activists jumped overboard and swam to one of the islands where they planted a Chinese flag. 

Several activists claimed their boat had been rammed by the Japanese coast guard and hit with a water cannon, which Japanese officials denied, according to Reuters. 

A spokesman for Japanese authorities told the AFP, "The Okinawa prefectural police arrested five men for violation of the immigration control law on Uotsurijima island." 

According to Reuters, China quickly responded by saying its foreign ministry was "contacting the Japanese side to lodge representations over five Chinese nationals' detention on the Diaoyu Islands."

GlobalPost reported on the tiny group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that have quickly become the symbol of a longstanding territorial dispute between China and Japan last month. In the piece, GlobalPost writer Justin McCurry noted that the islands themselves are unremarkable.

"What interests Asia's two biggest economies most," he wrote, "are the rich fishing grounds and potentially huge under-sea deposits of oil and natural gas."

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