The Diaoyu Islands are a group of uninhabited islands located roughly due east of mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands. They are currently controlled by Japan, which calls them Senkaku Islands. Both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islands.
Six Chinese ships return to waters near Diaoyus, over Tokyo's protests
Latest tour to 'keep watch on Japanese right-wingers' near Diaoyus follows Tokyo's cabinet shake-up amid war of words with Beijing
Teddy Ng and Agence France-Presse in Tokyo
Six Chinese government ships were seen near the disputed Diaoyu Islands yesterday, the Japanese coastguard said, a day after Tokyo reshuffled its cabinet amid rising bilateral tensions.
The coastguard said that four maritime surveillance ships had entered waters near the islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, in the afternoon.
"Patrol ships from our agency have been telling them to sail outside of our territorial waters," it said. "There has not been any response from the Chinese ships."
Two other Chinese government vessels were nearby, but not in what Japan claims to be its territorial waters. Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said Tokyo had lodged a protest to Beijing.
Xinhua quoted the State Oceanic Administration as saying that Chinese maritime surveillance ships had conducted another patrol in waters off the Diaoyu Islands, "keeping a close watch on the illegal presence of Japanese right-wingers".
Tensions between China and Japan have risen after Tokyo's municipal government announced plans to purchase three of the disputed East China Sea islands, prompting the Japanese government to intervene and purchase them itself.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi accused Japan of theft at the UN General Assembly last week. Japan's deputy UN ambassador, Kazuo Kodama, insisted the islands were Japanese.
The United States has called on both countries to remain calm and says it is not taking sides. But US Navy officials confirmed on Sunday that two of its carrier battle groups were operating in the East and South China seas, Time magazine reported online.
Anti-Japanese sentiment has been spreading on the mainland, with protests in several cities seeing Japanese cars, shops and restaurants vandalised.
The mainland authorities have arrested protesters who resorted to violence. In Xian , police arrested a man accused of attacking the driver of a Japanese car last month.
In a related development, Japan's new education minister, Makiko Tanaka, who is regarded as Beijing-friendly, said on Monday that there were "flaws" in Japan's history curriculum because of an insufficient focus on contemporary history. "I've had doubts about that for a long time and I believe such education is problematic," Tanaka said.
Professor Yang Bojiang , from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Tanaka's remarks were intended to ease tensions. "She wants to show that there are alternative voices in Japan," Yang said.
However, he said he did not foresee major change, even though Tokyo "faces an uncertain political situation and a coalition government is possible".