Coast guard enhancements OK’d

Kyodo

The Cabinet approved bills Tuesday to enhance the Japan Coast Guard’s law enforcement powers in territorial waters in light of illegal operations by foreign ships and a dispute over ownership of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The government aims to have the legislation enacted during the current Diet session through June, with the revised laws to take effect about 20 days after enactment.

Under a bill, prompted by the 2010 run-in between a Chinese trawler and coast guard cutters trying to shoo it away from the Senkakus, coast guard personnel will have the authority to investigate cases of illegal entry and destruction of lighthouses and other facilities on remote, uninhabited islands and arrest suspects, officials said.

The islands covered will be named by the coast guard commandant and the National Police Agency commissioner general, and are expected to include Okinotori and Minamitori islands, Japan’s southernmost and easternmost territories, which are both technically under the administration of the village of Ogasawara, Tokyo, as well as the Senkaku islets, under Okinawa’s jurisdiction.

The Senkaku Islands are also claimed by China.