TOKYO Kyodo five ballistic missiles fired by the Chinese military fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone on Thursday, the Japanese government said, with Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi demanding that China immediately stop the live-fire military drill near Taiwan.
The government said Chinese ballistic missiles have dropped within the waters, marking the first time that they have fallen in the EEZ part of a Chinese-designated training area southwest of Hateruma Island in southern Okinawa.
China is holding drills around Taiwan to protest U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan earlier this week, including a four-day exercise that began Thursday in six areas encircling the self-governed island.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said at a news conference that China's move is a grave issue that concerns our country's national security and the safety of the people. The Japanese government also lodged a diplomatic protest against the Chinese government.
Hateruma is located close to Taiwan and other islands such as the Yonaguni and the Senkakus in the East China Sea.
The westernmost Japanese island of Yonaguni is a critical defense line for Japan's Self-Defense Forces, while the Senkaku Islands, administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing, are at the heart of bilateral friction.
Five of the nine ballistic missiles launched by China on Thursday afternoon fell within the Japanese EEZ, according to the Defense Ministry. The closest to Japanese territory was about 80 kilometers north-northwest of Yonaguni.
The ministry said that nine missiles flew somewhere between 350 km and 700 km after being launched from inland China and the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, including four that likely crossed over Taiwan.
Japan expressed concern about China's military drills in locations near Taiwan, and said that the area overlaps with the EEZ.
Hayashi's demands to Beijing over the live-fire military drill near Taiwan came as he spoke to reporters on the sidelines of foreign ministers meetings related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
The Japanese minister said that Hayashi and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed to strongly condemn China for its ballistic missile launches.
The drills came in response to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan earlier this week, which has angered China and has resulted in a flare-up in cross-strait tensions.
The United States has said Pelosi's trip to Taiwan does not signal a change in U.S. policy on the island.