By Yusuke Fukui
Chinese coral poachers and Japan Coast Guard vessels continued playing a game of cat and mouse in Japanese waters south of Tokyo on Nov. 8, as a large number of the poaching craft have returned to the area around the Ogasawara island chain.
An Asahi Shimbun aircraft spotted the suspected poaching vessels on Nov. 8 that were returning to Japanese territorial waters about 22 kilometers from the coast after Typhoon No. 20 left the area two days earlier.
During a one-hour flight north over Hahajima Island of the Ogasawara chain to Yomejima Island via Chichijima Island, about 30 suspected poaching boats were spotted.
The vessels, hoisting Chinese flags, were operating in groups of five to six with each boat anchored about one kilometer from one another.
About five km south of Yomejima Island, a large coast guard surveillance ship was seen chasing five suspected poaching boats in an attempt to drive them out of Japanese waters.
During his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on Nov. 8. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told Wang that it is “very regrettable” that Chinese poaching vessels are illegally operating in Japanese waters.