Japan on June 21 is reported to have begun the legal process of complete integration of the Senkakus island chain, approx.1,931 km southwest of Tokyo, that Beijing has long claimed. The Ishigaki city council in Okinawa prefecture approved a bill for the purpose. The Senkakus, which China calls the Diaoyus, have been administered by Japan since 1972. In a statement issued by China's Foreign Ministry, the islands are its "inherent territories". Beijing urged Japan to "abide by the spirit of the four-principle consensus, avoid creating new incidents on the Diaoyu Islands issue, and take practical actions to maintain the stability of the East China Sea situation". The Ishigaki city council, however, said that the bill was necessary to "improve the efficiency of administrative procedures". Since April, Chinese ships had been spotted by the Japanese coast guard, in the waters close to the Senakakus. The number of Chinese ships have only increased in the last few weeks with four of them sailing in the area even on the day when the bill was passed by the city council. Japan's Cabinet Secretary last week reiterated that the Senkakus are under Tokyo's control and "unquestionably" their territory historically and under international law. "It is extremely serious that these activities continue. "We will respond to the Chinese side firmly and calmly".

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