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Japanese activists land on disputed islands

A group of Japanese activists swam ashore and raised flags early Sunday on one of a group of islands at the centre of an escalating territorial dispute with China.

world Updated: Aug 20, 2012 00:22 IST

A group of Japanese activists swam ashore and raised flags early Sunday on one of a group of islands at the centre of an escalating territorial dispute with China.

The Coast Guard in southern Japan's Okinawa prefecture said nine or 10 activists had made an unauthorised landing on Uotsuri Island, part of the small archipelago known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu. The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Plans for Sunday's visit drew a protest from China's Foreign Ministry. "Any unilateral action taken by Japan on the islands is illegal and invalid," it said in a statement on its website.

Days earlier, a group of 14 Hong Kong residents and mainland Chinese had travelled by boat to the islands, and some swam ashore. Japan arrested them on Wednesday for landing without authorisation, and sought to quiet the spat by quickly deporting the group on Friday. Plans for more visits by activists on both sides may inflame the territorial tensions.

The Coast Guard did not identify those who landed on Uotsuri Island on Sunday. They were members of a group of ultra-conservative parliamentarians and politicians visiting waters off the islands over the weekend to mourn for the victims of a boat accident near there at the end of WW-II