TOKYO, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The Japanese government is to respond strongly to Chinese warships that approach the disputed Senkaku Islands – islets under Japan's administration, but also claimed by China and Taiwan.
Tokyo has designated waters within a 12-nautical mile radius of the Senkakus, also known as the Diaoyutai Islands, as its sovereign maritime zone, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Tuesday, local time.
Should Chinese warships enter the off-limits zone action would be taken, and Japan would promptly demand the departure of the Chinese boats.
Japanese officials had clarified its specifications to China, after a Chinese warship reportedly sailed near the Senkaku Islands in November.
Tokyo's Coast Guard can engage in the protection of lives and property, Yonhap reported, but the response in the case of an armed attack would be far below a military-style "defense mobilization." Weapons, however, could still be deployed in situations of self-defense or emergency evacuation.
Japan's Coast Guard has been deployed three times: during a North Korea ship incident in 1999, a Chinese submarine interception in Japanese waters in 2004 and measures to curb Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden in 2009.
The Japanese government has typically dispatched patrol boats of the Maritime Safety Agency to contact Chinese ships in Japan's territorial waters.
Japan, however, does not have a means to cope with bigger Chinese warships sailing near the Senkakus, and Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces would be deployed to confront such ships in the future, according to Japan press.