Senkaku dispute: Japan uses water cannons on Taiwan ships


An activist holds the Japanese flag before a group placed the country's flag on a disputed island, part of a group known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.


Antoine Bouthier

As many as 50 Taiwanese fishing boats entered waters that Japan claimed around the Senkaku Islands on Tuesday, escalating the territorial dispute with China.

Following warnings not to enter the waters that went unheeded by the Taiwanese, Japan Coast Guard patrol ships turned water cannons on the boats, according to The Telegraph. The Taiwanese retaliated, firing back against the Japanese ships with water cannons mounted on eight surveillance ships dispatched from Taipei.

When told to leave Japanese waters, one surveillance vessel captain replied that the boats were operating in Taiwan's waters legitimately, and protested that Japan should exit the waters, instead, the Telegraph reported. He also demanded that the Japanese Coast Guard withdraw. Many of the Taiwanese ships were flying banners demanding that Japan hand over the territory to Taiwan.

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The last week has been filled with similar protests from Chinese patrol ships, attempting to maintain their rights over what they call the Diaoyu Islands, but this was the first large-scale protest over the territory from Taiwan, The Japan Daily Press noted. The Taiwanese fishing boats and eight surveillance ships accompanying them have now left the disputed waters.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura stated on Monday afternoon that while he wants to resolve the issue peacefully, the Taiwanese vessels did not adhere to the Japan Coast Guard's warnings, the Daily Press also reported. Measures such as non-lethal water canons in order to make them change course are used in this type of situation.