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As the United States focused on celebrating Independence Day, tensions temporarily increased throughout the Pacific Ocean after Japan discovered Chinese and Russian warships near the conflicting islands of the East China Sea.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense said Chinese frigate ships sailed within the “contiguous zone” just outside Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands.

File: Japanese Coast Guard ships and boats, rear and right, sailing with Japanese activist fishing boats, raising a flag in the center, near a group of conflicting islands called Diaoyu Islands in China and the Senkaku in Japan. , At the beginning of Sunday, August 18, 2013.
(AP Photo / Emily Wang, file)

The sighting happened just 40 minutes after the Russian frigate entered the sea for more than an hour, the ministry said.

What was behind the recent military activities of China and Russia in the region was not immediately clear. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces said the ship may have been there to avoid the typhoon.

Admiral U.S. Navy states that China in the South China Sea is a fully militarized island.

Deputy Prime Minister Seiji Kihara said Japan had filed a protest in Beijing expressing “grave concern” about the case.

“The Senkaku Islands are a unique part of Japan’s territory both historically and under international law. The government will calmly but firmly address this issue and protect Japan’s land, territorial waters and airspace,” Kihara said. He said.

He said there were no violations of the territorial waters, but said China’s invasion of neighboring areas was the fourth such event since June 2016.

Meanwhile, Beijing criticized Tokyo’s protests and justified the entry of frigates as “legal and justified.”

“Japan does not have the right to make such irresponsible statements,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference, adding that the islands are Chinese territory.

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Japan sees China’s increasingly aggressive military activity in the East China Sea and South China Sea as a threat to regional stability. Tokyo is particularly sensitive to China’s activities near conflicting islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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