Chinese maritime vessels enter waters around disputed East China Sea

Three Chinese maritime surveillance vessels have entered Japan's territorial waters around disputed islands in the East China Sea

The three ships were sighted around the uninhabited islets this morning.

The islets are known in Japan as Senkakus and in China as Diaoyu

It was the first intrusion by Chinese vessels since Japan announced earlier this month that a Chinese warship had directed fire-control radar at a Japanese vessel in the area.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said it has lodged a protest over the phone with the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida also told reporters that the intrusion "cannot be accepted and is highly regrettable."