Japan's coastguard said Monday it was searching for seven people missing after their boat capsized and was spotted in waters off the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islets, which are also claimed by China.
The overturned boat was spotted on Sunday afternoon, drifting in waters north of the islands by a Japanese navy patrol in the area, coastguard spokesman Keisuke Nakao told AFP.
"We have been searching the area with patrol ships and helicopters since receiving the information at around 1:30 pm (0430 GMT) Sunday" from the Maritime Self-Defense Force, he said.
Local media in Japan said the boat was Taiwanese, but the coastguard said it had few details yet on the vessel, though it "seems to be a fishing boat".
Nakao said Japanese authorities were coordinating with their counterparts in Taiwan, which also lays claim to the Senkaku islets. Beijing calls the uninhabited territory the Diaoyu Islands.