ISHIGAKI, OKINAWA PREF. – Two Diet lawmakers said Saturday that they surveyed the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from a fishing boat the same day but did not actually set foot on them.
The two are Koichi Mukoyama of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan who represents Hyogo Prefecture in the Lower House, and Yoshitaka Shindo of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, who represents Saitama Prefecture.
The two spent about five hours in waters near Uotsuri Island and two other islands administered by Japan but claimed by both China and Taiwan, after departing from Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture early Saturday, they said at a news conference upon their return.
According to Mukoyama and Shindo, they are the first lawmakers to visit the area since Shingo Nishimura landed on Uotsuri Island in 1997.
Noting that three of the Senkaku Islands are in private hands and have been leased to the state despite being situated in a strategic area vital to national security, Mukoyama said, “We must proceed to nationalize them.”