This is the first such protest under new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was elected last month.
Japan's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki met Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua in Tokyo to lodge a protest after four Chinese government ships were spotted in the area on Monday.
Saiki ‘strongly demanded that such incidents do not happen again’, a ministry statement said.
The move comes amid reports that Japan could increase military spending this year for the first time in more than a decade, the BBC reports.
Chinese ships have sailed near the islands many times since Japan bought them from a private owner last year.
Both claim the islands, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.
London: Japan has summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest against the presence of government ships in waters around disputed Senkaku islands.
First Published: Wednesday, January 09, 2013, 15:55