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Japan vows it won't tolerate Senkaku challenges

Japan vows it won't tolerate Senkaku challenges

Japan vows it won't tolerate Senkaku challenges

Updated 23 February 2013, 12:55 AEDT

Japan's prime minister has vowed he will not tolerate any challenges to control over a group of contested islands in the East China Sea.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe made the statement during a visit to the United States following China's growing incursions into the area.

He was visiting the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington accompanied by the US President Barack Obama.

The Japanese leader insisted that history and international law proved that the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese, "are Japan's sovereign territory".

Mr Obama has called for the two nations to work on common interests and said that Japan's relations with China are "among the most important" with any country.

Tokyo annexed the islands in 1895.

Mr Abe said no-one contested Japan's sovereignty between that time and 1971, the year before the United States returned the islands after seizing them in World War II.

China, however, disputes the Japanese position, arguing that it has controlled the islands since the 1368-1644 Ming Dynasty.

Taiwan also claims the area.

Japan says China only recently became interested in the islands after discovering that the area was potentially rich in gas and oil.