The Japanese coastguard said on Thursday it had rescued theballoonist, identified as 35-year-old-chef Xu Shuaijun, onWednesday in the sea near the tiny isles, called the Senkaku byJapan and Diaoyu by China.
The man's attempt to land his multicoloured balloon on therocky outcrops looks unlikely to have big repercussions for thetwo countries, as a coastguard spokesman said Japan handed himover to a Chinese patrol vessel on Wednesday evening and Japan'scoastguard was operating as normal.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang described theman as a "balloon enthusiast", and confirmed he had been handedover to a Chinese vessel upon being rescued and was in goodhealth. He declined further comment.
Xu's adventure comes amid high tension over the disputedterritory between the world's second- and third-biggesteconomies.