Protest ship leaves Japan waters

A Chinese activist, detained after landing on a disputed island, raises his hands as they board a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship for their deportation to Hong Kong, at a port in Ishigaki island

A Hong Kong protest vessel carrying seven Chinese activists deported from Japan for their involvement in an illegal landing on one of the dispuated islands left Japanese territorial waters early Saturday, the Japan Coast Guard said.

According to the JCG, the activist boat passed south of the Senkakus and was heading for Hong Kong on a route through the Taiwan Strait.

Seven protesters illegally landed on Uotsurijima island, part of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, on Wednesday.

A JCG patrol vessel was traveling alongside the protest vessel in case the crew took any suspicious actions, such as turning around and heading back toward the islands.

The JCG will continue its patrol activities in seas near the islets for the time being.

After the illegal landing, a Chinese official vessel appeared in waters off the islands between Wednesday night and dawn on Thursday.

However, the JCG said there had been no significant incidents in the area since then.

According to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, the protest vessel departed from Ishigaki Port at 9:25 p.m. Friday and left Japanese territorial waters at a point about 22 kilometers northwest of Iriomotejima island at about 1:10 a.m. Saturday.

As of 8:30 a.m. Saturday, the protest vessel had turned west-northwest in the East China Sea, apparently toward the Taiwan Strait, the JCG said.

The JCG said its patrol vessel sailing near the protest boat had seen no signs of suspicious movements.

The JCG patrol boat will travel parallel to the vessel until it crosses the median line between Japan and Taiwan in the East China Sea.

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