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Taiwan Flotilla Heads To Islands Disputed By China And Japan

Chinese ocean surveillance, fishery patrol ships, and a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship (right) all sail about 15 kilometers west of the disputed islands, in the East China Sea, on September 18.
A fleet of about 70 fishing vessels has left Taiwan, bound for a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The islands -- known as Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyu in China, and Diaoyutai in Taiwan -- are at the center of a tense territorial dispute between China and Japan, which each claim them.

Taiwanese fishermen hope to press their claims to the right to fish in the waters surrounding the islands.

"For the last 100 years, we've fished in these waters," an organizer of the flotilla was quoted as saying.

He added that, weather permitting, the Taiwanese ships would attempt to land on the islands and plant a flag there.

The Taiwanese Coast Guard has promised to protect the fleet.

The Japanese Coast Guard meanwhile reported on September 24 that two Chinese civilian surveillance ships were near the islands, prompting an official protest to the Chinese envoy to Japan.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP