Japanese Patrol Boats Frequently Stray Close to Dokdo

Japanese patrol boats have appeared in waters near Dokdo 440 times since 2008, according to data the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted to lawmaker Chung Hee-soo of the National Assembly's Defense Committee last Friday.

The figures show that Japanese patrol boats came near Dokdo 71 times from January to September this year alone. They appeared in these waters 94 times in 2008, 87 times in 2009, 95 times in 2010, and 93 times in 2011.

They did not cross Korea's 22 km territorial sea limit, but came close to the 44 km so-called contiguous zone of the Korean Navy’s operational area. A contiguous zone is not a territorial water but an area where a coastal state can inspect ships to prevent crimes and take other precautionary measures.

"The Japanese patrol boats sailed not in our territorial waters, but in international waters where ships are guaranteed their right of innocent passage," a military officer said. "They posed no problem as far as international law is concerned."

Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned aircraft appeared in skies over the submerged rocks of Ieo Island 14 times from January until September this year. They were detected there by Air Force radar only twice in 2010 and seven times in 2011.

englishnews@chosun.com / Oct. 08, 2012 09:52 KST