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Chinese ships enter disputed waters amid raised tensions

TOKYO -- Three Chinese ships entered disputed waters off Tokyo-controlled islands in the East China Sea on Sunday, the Japanese coastguard said, the first such incident since Beijing announced an air defense zone in the area last month.

The vessels entered the 12-nautical-mile territorial waters at about 9:00 a.m. (0000 GMT) off one of the Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus, the Japan Coast Guard said. They left the area shortly after noon.

It was the first time that Chinese coastguard ships had been spotted sailing through the waters since Beijing raised regional tensions with its declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in November.

Chinese vessels have sailed in and out of contiguous waters around the islands but stayed away from entering territorial waters since Nov. 22, a Japanese coastguard official said.

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