TOKYO (AFP) – Three Chinese government ships sailed into waters around disputed islands controlled by Tokyo for about five hours on Saturday, the Japanese coastguard said.
The maritime surveillance vessels entered the 12-nautical-mile zone off Uotsurijima, one of the Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea shortly after 9:30 am (0030 GMT).
They were seen leaving the zone at around 2:30 pm, the coastguard said.
Ships from the two countries have been involved in a stand-off as Beijing and Tokyo jostle over ownership of the strategically important and resource-rich islands.
A territorial row that dates back four decades reignited last September when Tokyo nationalised three islands in the chain, in what it said was a mere administrative change of ownership.