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China Sea power concerns new Japan foreign minister


TOKYO (AFP): Japan's new Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba has voiced concern over China's growing naval power and its activities near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

"Its maritime activities are standing out," Gemba said at his first news conference on Friday since being appointed the nation's top diplomat in the new cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda earlier in the day.

"It is important for us to firmly seek progress in transparency as its naval strength is expanding without transparency."

Their territorial row over the islands -- called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese -- intensified last month after Japan protested to Beijing over the entry of Chinese fishery patrol boats into waters near the islands.

In September last year, Beijing broke off all high-level contact with Tokyo after Japan detained a Chinese fishing boat captain whose vessel had collided with Japanese coastguard patrol ships in the same waters.

Japan eventually released the captain under strong pressure from China; a move that helped eased the tension.

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