Japan says China’s coast guard ships entered its waters

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Spotting of vessels near disputed Senkaku Islands comes after Tokyo set up ground force on southwestern island

TOKYO – Japanese authorities reported Wednesday that three Chinese coast guard vessels — including one they said appeared to be armed — were asked to leave waters claimed by Tokyo near a disputed island chain.

Japan’s coast guard headquarters in southern Okinawa Prefecture said the Chinese vessels spent around 1 hour and 40 minutes near the Senkakus in the East China Sea.

Kyodo news agency also reported that the incident was the ninth since the start of this year.

After being warned by the Japanese side, the Chinese ships sailed off to an area just outside what Tokyo considers its territorial waters.

The Senkakus are also claimed by China and Taiwan, who call them the Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

On Monday, Japan established a ground force unit on its southwestern-most inhabited island of Yonaguni — located some 150 kilometers south of the Senkakus — to monitor maritime activities in the sea.

Tokyo has been slowly redeploying troops from northern Japan to the southwestern chain of islands stretching from Kyushu island, and including the large island of Okinawa, as the perceived threat to the region has grown with the rise of China’s assertiveness.

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