| Tension is rising between China and Japan over the disputed Senkaku Islands, which Chinese call Diaoyu, early in the New Year.
Beijing has held a ceremony to hoist the Chinese national flag aboard a vessel near waters off the disputed islands, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered his government to strengthen its defense.
China`s State Oceanic Administration announced through Chinese media that it held the ceremony near the islands Tuesday and pledged to defend "territorial sovereignty." Beijing also held another ceremony on an official fishing guidance ship on Oct. 7 last year.
Around noon Saturday, the oceanic agency`s Y-12 twin-turboprop aircraft ventured some 100 kilometers away from Senkaku. It soon left the zone without entering Japanese airspace over the islands after Japan`s Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets. This was the fourth time for a Chinese aircraft to approach the islands.
Abe gathered senior officials of Japan`s military and the Maritime Security Agency at his official residence for a briefing on Tokyo`s surveillance posture on the islands. He then ordered them to review the operation of the Air Self-Defense Force`s fighter jets and the maritime agency`s patrol boats, suggesting his intent to keep in check Chinese activities in the waters and airspace near the islands.
The continued tension over the islands is affecting sentiment between Chinese and Japanese people. A survey by Japan`s Kyodo News Agency of 1,000 Chinese and 1,000 Japanese from late November to early December showed that two-thirds of Chinese were reluctant to buy Japanese goods.
More than 65 percent of both Chinese and Japanese also said they did not wish to visit each other`s country.