Japan says three Chinese ships in disputed waters

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's coastguard said three Chinese surveillance ships were in the territorial waters of disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday.

The three marine surveillance ships entered the 12-nautical-mile territorial zone off Uotsuri, one of the islands, shortly after 7:00 am (6 am Singapore time), the Japan Coast Guard said in a statement.

Beijing claims the Japanese-controlled islands, called the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China.

The move was the latest in a series by Chinese government ships since Tokyo nationalised three islands in the chain in September, in what it said was merely an administrative change of ownership. The action sparked fierce protests in China.