A number of 14 Chinese citizens were arrested by Japanese authorities after landing on a island controlled by Japan, but which is claimed by China, in the first incident of this kind in the last eight years.
Japanese coast guard and police representatives said that seven of the arrested people landed on the island to plant Chinese flags. The disputed territory belongs to the Senkaku group of islands, which China calls Diaoyu.
Some of the people arrested said they rejected the charge of illegal entry into Japan, arguing that they did not need a passport, since the territory belongs to China. Most of those arrested are members of a patriotic group in Hong Kong, while at least two are television journalists who were documenting the protest.
Japan and China have been in a diplomatic deadlock in the past months over the islands located in the East China Sea. The islands are located near rich fishing grounds and may contain important gas and oil reserves.
“While minor, the diplomatic flare-ups underscore how disagreements over history and territory continue to isolate Japan from the rest of Asia,” The New York Times wrote recently.