Tokyo: Japan has lodged a note of protest after eight Chinese maritime surveillance vessels entered Japanese territorial waters Tuesday near a chain of islands claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing, Kyodo news agency reported.
The Japanese foreign ministry summoned Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua Tuesday and gave him a note of protest and demanded an immediate withdrawal of the Chinese vessels.
According to Japanese Coast Guard Service, it was the biggest number of Chinese ships to enter the territorial waters of Japan since Tokyo purchased from a Japanese owner last September a major part of Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus.
Last year the islands became the centre of a dispute that has triggered violent anti-Japanese protests across China and caused Japanese companies to suspend operations in China.
The islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan, lie on a vital shipping route and are situated above large hydrocarbon deposits.