Two Chinese coast guard vessels entered Japan's territorial waters near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands on Saturday, prompting a protest from Tokyo over Beijing's recent repeated provocative actions following the enactment of a controversial new law.
The pair of vessels intruded in succession into the waters near the group of uninhabited islets, claimed by China, in the East China Sea at around 10:15 a.m., before leaving the zone nearly two hours after, the Japan Coast Guard said.
The coast guard said it has warned the ships to exit the Japanese territory, adding one of them is equipped with what appears to be an autocannon.
Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, lodged a protest with the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, the ministry said.
Two other Chinese vessels also cruised in the so-called contiguous zone just outside of Japan's territorial waters near the Senkakus, which Beijing calls Diaoyu, the coast guard said.
The repeated incursions come after a new law entered into force in China at the start of this month, explicitly allowing its coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships that Beijing sees as illegally entering its waters.
It is the eighth time this year that Chinese vessels have intruded into Japanese waters, with the latest incursion taking place on Feb. 16, according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters based in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.