The Japanese Coast Guard sent its own patrol ships to the area and demanded that the Chinese ships leave Japanese territorial waters immediately.
Such raids are not uncommon in the disputed area. Both Tokyo and Beijing claim the uninhabited islands as their property, but Japan has controlled them since 1972. Taiwan, which Beijing considers a Chinese province, also claims ownership of the islands.
Chinese officials have repeatedly claimed it was China’s inherent right to patrol the waters around the islands. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Japanese Coast Guard statement Friday.
The latest raid marked the longest period Chinese government ships have spent in the waters since 2012, after Tokyo bought some of the islands from a private Japanese owner, the Japanese Coast Guard said.
Previously, the longest raid was in October 2020, when a Chinese ship stayed for more than 57 hours.
The latest case comes amid growing friction between the two neighbors, especially as China is wary of Japan’s relationship with the United States.
Last month, Tokyo hosted a summit for the increasingly active Quad security group, made up of Japan, the United States, Australia and India. Beijing sees the group as part of US efforts to contain it.
Hours after the summit concluded, Chinese and Russian air forces conducted joint strategic air patrols over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean in what the Chinese Defense Ministry called part of an annual military cooperation plan.
The ministry said the group has been operating in waters near Japan since June 12.