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Chinese spy boat enters Japanese territorial waters amid war games

China has denied any wrongdoing, saying it was conducting a "normal exercise." The incursion comes amid joint military exercises between Japan, the US and India.

A Chinese "information gathering" vessel on Wednesday entered Japanese territorial waters, prompting Tokyo to voice "concerns about the Chinese military's activities in general," said officials.

"The Chinese military vessel moved in after an Indian ship sailed into Japan's territorial waters as it participated in a Japan-US-India joint exercise," said Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani.

China's defense ministry said its vessel acted in accordance with international law and the principle of freedom of navigation.

The incursion comes amid heightened tensions between Tokyo and Beijing after Chinese naval ships sailed near disputed islands in the East China Sea last week.

"The government will continue to take thorough measures to patrol the air space and waters surrounding our nation," said Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko in a statement.

Wednesday's incursion marks the first time a Chinese naval vessel has entered Japanese waters since 2004, when a Chinese nuclear submarine was detected near the Ishigaki Island.

Disputed areas

In the South China Sea, tensions have risen between China and its neighbors Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, which claim areas Beijing says are an integral part of its territory.

However, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday retracted a strongly worded statement warning of rising tensions in the South China Sea, although China was not directly mentioned.

"We expressed our serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea," said a statement from the regional group.

Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama said Washington is committed to supporting the ASEAN community in light of the latest developments in the contested sea.

"We discussed the need for tangible steps in the South China Sea to lower tensions including a halt to further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas," Obama said, referring to China building artificial islands holding military assets.

Watch video 05:01

Philippines: China's brazen land grab | DW

ls/kl (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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