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Japan coast guard fires at fishing boat

TOKYO, Japan -- Japanese patrol boats fired warning shots at a fishing boat that illegally entered the country's exclusive economic zone in southern Japan, an official said Saturday.

The boats fired shots over the unidentified vessel on five occasions after it repeatedly ignored orders to stop, the Associated Press reports the official saying.

The ship was spotted at 6:20 a.m. (2120 GMT) by a coast guard patrol plane in Japanese waters about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northwest of Amami Oshima Island, he said.

He said the ship -- identified as the Choryo 3705 in Japanese -- was not registered as Japanese.

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It was moving at a speed of 14 kph (8.7 mph) west, roughly in the direction of China, he said.

Some 27 navy and coast guard boats and 14 coast guard aircraft were giving chase, the official said.

Amami Oshima is located about 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Tokyo.

It was the second time in two years that Japanese boats have fired on an intruder.

On March 23, 1999, Japanese coast guard boats and navy vessels fired warning shots after North Korean ships ignored orders to stop after entering Japan's territorial waters.

The ships later fled.

Since then, the Maritime Safety Agency has purchased high-speed boats, and Japan's Self-Defense forces and the coast guard have held joint exercises for the first time.


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