TOKYO (AFP) - Three Chinese government ships sailed into waters around disputed islands controlled by Tokyo 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 9.30am (8.30am Singapore time), the coastguard added.
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.