- - Sunday, November 25, 2012

TOKYO — Japan’s new ambassador to China officially took office Monday, as calls to show toughness on the Diaoyu Islands dispute with China poured in from major front-runners in the December election campaign.

Observers predict the islands dispute will intensify in the weeks leading up to the Dec. 16 parliamentary elections.

Masato Kitera, Japan’s assistant chief cabinet secretary since 2011, was appointed as the country’s new ambassador to China during a Cabinet meeting Thursday morning.

The new mission for Mr. Kitera, 60, marked the end of a months-long waiting period for a successor to Uichiro Niwa, who had been blasted within Japan for straying from Tokyo’s hard-line stance on the Diaoyu Islands dispute.

Mr. Kitera is a veteran diplomat who graduated from Tokyo University and started his career in the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1976.

RUSSIA

Moscow aims to award British vets of convoys

LONDON — The Russian ambassador to Britain is frustrated by the British government’s refusal to allow his country to present military medals to the surviving World War II navy veterans who helped supply the Soviet Union during the dangerous Arctic Convoy campaign.

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko expressed his disappointment to many of the veterans who attended a reception at the Russian Embassy in London over the weekend.

‘I wish to express once more on behalf of the people of Russia and the Russian government our profound gratitude for your heroism and courage,” Mr. Yakovenko said.

“The embassy will continue to make the case for this award before the British authorities.”

The ambassador noted that Australia, Canada and the United States have authorized the Russian government to honor their veterans of the Arctic Convoys with the Ushakov military medal.

The British Foreign Office noted government restrictions on the awarding of foreign medals. A spokesman told the News of Portsmouth, England, that medals can be awarded for specific service and should be presented within five years of the action.

The wartime allies sent 78 convoys of supplies to Russian ports from August 1941 to May 1945. The merchant convoys were guarded by British, Canadian and U.S. warships.

UNITED KINGDOM

Spanish envoy warned over Gibraltar incidents

LONDON — Britain is demanding an explanation from Spain after a Spanish naval ship and a customs vessel violated British territorial waters off the coast of Gibraltar last week.

Simon Fraser, Britain’s permanent under secretary of state, summoned Spanish Ambassador Federick Trillo last week to complain about the Nov. 13 incidents when the Spanish naval ship patrolled off the British territory for several hours and the customs vessel attempted to seize a civilian boat, prompting a Royal Navy boat to intervene.

David Lidington, Britain’s minister for European affairs, called the Spanish actions “provocative incursions” and a violation of a long-established treaty.

“The U.K. has repeatedly made diplomatic protests to Spain over attempts by Spanish state authorities to exercise jurisdiction in British Gibraltar territorial waters,” Mr. Lidington said.

“Yet on Nov. 13, there were two further serious incursions. I condemn these provocative incursions and urge the Spanish government to ensure that they are not repeated.”

Spain ceded Gibraltar, now a territory of 30,000 residents on the southwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of Spanish Succession.

From wire dispatches and staff reports