• Kyodo

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Chinese coast guard vessels were not spotted Monday near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea apparently due to the approaching Typhoon Hagupit, ending a 111-day streak of appearances since mid-April, Japan Coast Guard officials said.

Four Chinese ships left the area just beyond the Japanese waters around the islets on Sunday morning and later moved further away, the officials said.

China has ratcheted up pressure on Japan by constantly sending its vessels into or near the Japanese territorial waters to challenge the status quo. The uninhabited islets in the resource-rich sea are claimed by China and Taiwan, which call them Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

China sent its ships near the Senkaku Islands from April 14 to Sunday, the longest streak since Tokyo put the islets under state control in 2012.

Some of the Chinese ships in the area were spotted tracking or trying to track Japanese fishing boats operating there in early May, according to a local Japanese coast guard.

In early July, two Chinese coast guard ships stayed in Japanese territorial waters around the islands for over 39 hours, the longest period since September 2012.

The dispute over the islets, located some 400 kilometers west of Okinawa, has been a sticking point for ties between the two countries.

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