One of the Chinese vessels came within 1.9 miles 3 kilometers of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands, well past the internationally recognized 12 mile 19.3 kilometer limit that defines a country's territorial waters, according to the coast guard.
Japan's coast guard sent its own patrol ships to the area and demanded Chinese vessels leave Japan's territorial waters, it said.
Such incursions are not uncommon in the disputed area. Both Tokyo and Beijing claim the uninhabited islands as their own, but Japan has administered them since 1972. Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a Chinese province, also claims ownership of the islands.
Tensions over the rocky chain, 1,200 miles 1,900 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, have simmered for generations with claims over them dating back hundreds of years. Chinese officials have maintained that it was China's inherent right to patrol waters around the islands. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense did not respond immediately to requests for comment on the Japanese coast guard's statement. The Japanese coast guard said that the latest incursion marked the longest period of time that Chinese government vessels had spent in the waters since 2012 after Tokyo bought some of the islands from a private Japanese owner. The longest incursion was in October 2020, when a Chinese vessel stayed for more than 57 hours. A summit last month was held for the increasingly active Quad security grouping, made up of Japan, the United States, Australia and India. Beijing views the group as part of American efforts to contain it. After the summit closes, Chinese and Russian air forces conducted joint strategic air patrols over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the Western Pacific Ocean, as part of the Chinese Defense Ministry's annual military cooperation plan. On Wednesday, Japan's Defense Ministry said it had seen at least two Chinese warships and a supply ship in the Izu Islands, about 500 kilometers 310 miles south of Tokyo. One of the ships appeared to be the Lhasa, a Type 055 guided missile destroyer and one of China's most powerful surface ships. The ministry said the group has been operating in waters near Japan since June 12.