By Yuriy Humber and Kiyotaka Matsuda
Aug. 5 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s coast guard said it arrested two Chinese sea captains for operating in an exclusive economic zone on the coast of Ishikawa prefecture without permission.
The coast guard is now inspecting the shipping vessels, the authority said today in a faxed statement to Bloomberg News, without giving further details.
China’s ships have flared up tensions with both Japan and the Philippines over the last year. Today’s arrests come a year after the detention of a Chinese fishing trawler in the East China Sea erupted into a political standoff between the two nations, triggering a change in Japan’s defense strategy.
China claims most of the South China Sea and says any attempt to drill or fish in the waters is a violation of its sovereignty. Chinese vessels in May sliced cables of a survey ship doing work for Vietnam, the second such incident in a month. In March, Chinese ships chased away a vessel working for U.K.- based Forum Energy Plc off the Philippines.
The Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a speech today that China’s South China Sea claims “potentially threaten freedom of navigation.”
Japan expressed mounting concern over China’s expanding naval reach this week, saying in the government’s annual defense report that it expects the rising maritime power’s ships to become commonplace near its waters. The nation has shifted its defense focus to China from Russia and said it would deploy troops to its southwestern islands, moving personnel and tanks from northern areas.