Tokyo: Tokyo has lodged an official protest with Beijing over Chinese ships entering the territorial waters of disputed islands in the East China Sea, Japanese media reported Wednesday.
Four Chinese maritime surveillance ships were observed near the territorial waters of the Japanese held islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyus in China, Wednesday morning, Japan`s NHK TV reported.
At 12.30 pm, three of the ships ignored warnings from Japanese patrol vessels and crossed into the territorial waters.
"The Senkakus are Japanese territory and entering Japan`s territorial waters is unacceptable," Shinsuke Sugiyama, the head of Asian Affairs at the Japanese foreign ministry, said during a telephone conversation with a Chinese embassy official. "We demand the ships leave [Japan`s] territorial waters."
The is the second time in the last two days that Chinese surveillance ships have entered the territorial waters around the islands.
On Tuesday, four Chinese ships entered the waters around the islands and remained there about four hours.
Relations between the two countries have plummeted to their lowest level recently over their claims to the islands.
Japan claims it has occupied the islands since 1895, while China maintains the islands were recognized as Chinese as early as 1783.
The islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan, potentially contain large reserves of hydrocarbons.