Japanese paratroopers recaptured an island from an enemy in a wargame as its Defense Minister vowed to defend a disputed East China Sea territory. China’s ships sailed near the contested islets as Beijing reportedly expanded its air defense zone. Tokyo’s military on Sunday held a military drill dubbed “Island Defense,” in which the country’s elite airborne troops simulated the retaking of a remote island from an enemy nation. The plot for the annual drill, which took place at an exercise field east of Tokyo, stayed the same for the second year in a row as the dispute over the group of tiny islets in the East China Sea, claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan, showed no signs of resolution.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who was overseeing the drills, vowed to protect the territory around the islands, which Japan considers to be its own. “We can never overlook China’s repeated entries into our territorial waters. In addition to diplomatic efforts, we will cooperate with the Coast Guard to securely defend our territory and waters around the Senkaku islands,” Onodera said. The islands, which are known as Diaoyu in China and as Senkaku in Japan, have again found themselves in the middle of regional tension less than two weeks into the New Year. Three Chinese patrol ships briefly entered the disputed waters early Sunday, the first time since controversial fishing rules approved by China’s southern Hainan province took effect January 1. More