Japan says Chinese coastguard ships have approached a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea, claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing, for the second time in less than a week.
Japan’s coast guard said four Chinese vessels entered the waters surrounding the uninhabited islands — known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China — and were moving in the southwest direction on Monday morning.
The islets are controlled by Japan but are also claimed by China, which occasionally sends its coastguard vessels close to them.
China’s State Oceanic Administration said in an online statement that the ships were “patrolling in Chinese waters off the Diaoyu Islands.”
In a similar incident, four Chinese ships sailed near the islands on Thursday.
The islands, which lie about 220 kilometers northeast of Taiwan, are believed to be rich in natural resources. They were transferred by the United States to Japan’s administrative control in 1971, triggering a territorial dispute with China, which claims the discovery and ownership of the islands since the 14th century.
Tokyo insists it had ownership of the islands from 1895 until its surrender at the end of World War II.
Japan says Beijing escalates regional tensions by regularly sending vessels near the island chain. It also accuses China of pushing to extend its military influence in the East China Sea and the western Pacific.