China navy near Japan island: Tokyo

2012-10-16 09:01

Tokyo - Chinese naval vessels were in waters near a Japanese island on Tuesday, the defence ministry in Tokyo said, as tensions with Beijing remain high over a disputed archipelago.

"A Japanese aircraft spotted seven Chinese naval ships in waters 49km south-southeast of Yonaguni island at 07:00," a ministry official said, referring to territory internationally acknowledged as Japanese.

The ministry said the ships were two destroyers, at least one of which had missile capacity, two frigates, two submarine rescue ships and one supply ship.

"They were moving north from the Pacific Ocean to the East China Sea," the spokesperson said.

"They were in contiguous waters, 44km southwest of Nakanokamishima," a defence ministry spokesperson said separately, referring to a band of waters outside territorial waters over which Japan has certain rights under international maritime law.

The announcement comes after days of relative calm in a long-running dispute between Japan and China over the sovereignty of a small group of islands in the East China Sea.