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.
Tokyo protests to Beijing ambassador over 'provocative' ship incursions
Vice-foreign minister says China's 'repeated provocative actions' undermine talks
Agence France-Presse in Tokyo
Four Chinese government ships temporarily sailed into the territorial waters of disputed Tokyo-controlled islands in the East China Sea yesterday, Japan's coastguard said.
The maritime surveillance vessels entered the 12-nautical-mile zone around the main island in the disputed Diaoyu chain, called the Senkaku Islands in Japan, at midday.
The four ships left the zone about three hours later and remained within the 24-nautical-mile "contiguous" waters off the island at 3.30pm, a coastguard official said.
Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai "strongly protested to Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua about the Chinese ships' intrusion into Japan's territorial waters, and the growing frequency of such moves" by phone, the foreign ministry in Tokyo said.
Kawai said the "repeated provocative action" would undermine communication between the countries aimed at calming the situation, according to the statement. The ambassador repeated Beijing's view on the issue, but added he was seeking to resolve the dispute through dialogue, it said.
Chinese vessels have moved in and out of what Japan says is its sovereign territory over the past two months since Tokyo nationalised some of the islands in the group.
Yesterday was the third consecutive day that Chinese vessels have entered the territorial waters of the disputed islets.
On Friday, six Chinese government ships temporarily entered the waters around the main island, called Diaoyu Dao in China and Uotsuri Jima in Japan, while on Saturday, one Chinese government ship temporarily entered the same area, the coastguard said.