TOKYO, Oct 23 (Reuters) Japan will bar a group of international activists from landing on Japanese-held islands claimed by China and Taiwan, Tokyo's top government spokesman said today.
The 26 activists left Hong Kong by trawler yesterday and were expected to arrive on Wednesday in the vicinity of what Japan calls the Senkaku islands and China the Diaoyutai.
The aim is to push China's claim to the desolate outcrops, which sit in rich fishing grounds in the East China Sea.
''The Japan Coast Guard is always on guard and of course we would definitely not allow such activity,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told reporters when asked whether the demonstrators would be allowed to land.
He said the government would take appropriate measures to expel the activists.
''We have conveyed our position to the Chinese side and call on them to take measures to stop the voyage,'' he added.
For its part, China has ''strongly demanded'' Japan react to the protest calmly and not jeopardise the safety of the activists and their vessel, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday.
In the past Japanese authorities have prevented such vessels from approaching the islands.
The protest comes amid a warming in long-chilly ties between Japan and China after a visit by new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Beijing this month.
REUTERS MQA BS1712