A hot-air balloon in which the Coast Guard says a Chinese cook took a ride, in waters near the East China Sea islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. (AP Photo)
A Chinese cook who crashed into the sea while trying to fly on a hot-air balloon to islands claimed by both China and Japan has been rescued by Japan's Coast Guard.
Xu Shuaijun, 35, crashed on Wednesday after hitting turbulence as he approached the islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and Diayou in China, the Coast Guard said on Thursday.
The Coast Guard received a missing-person report from Taiwanese officials, and a Coast Guard helicopter spotted Xu about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the islands, they said.
He was picked up by a boat and later handed over to a Chinese patrol ship, according to the Coast Guard. His life was not in danger, although other details were not available.
The islands have been a sore point in bilateral relations for years, and nationalists from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have occasionally tried to sail to them.
A recent visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a Tokyo shrine that honors World War II war criminals has outraged China, adding to the bilateral tensions.