Asia

Japan to boost coast guard to defend East China Sea islands

Japan has decided to bolster its coast guard capabilities to defend East China Sea islands that China also claims and regularly patrols.

Japan controls the islands, and Wednesday's decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and others would let Japan add to its maritime presence in the surrounding waters.

The government said Japan's fiscal 2017 coast guard budget will reach a record 210 billion yen ($1.8 billion) to add eight vessels to its fleet and more than 200 law enforcement officials.

The islands are at the center of diplomatic row and both Japan and China send patrol vessels and aircrafts there routinely, raising concerns of an accidental collision or other risks.