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TOKYO (AP) – Japan protested to China on Thursday after spotting a Chinese warship for the first time near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Japanese officials said a Chinese navy frigate was seen off the coast of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, also claimed by China and called the Diaoyu islands.
The ship did not violate Japan’s territorial waters, and it has since left the area. While Chinese coast guard vessels routinely patrol the area, it was the first time a Chinese warship was spotted, officials said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticized Beijing for escalating regional tension. Japan is also investigating the presence of three Russian warships in the area about the same time.
Suga said officials are analyzing whether the two incidents were coordinated.