4 Chinese govt. ships likely with cannons enter Japan waters off Senkaku Islands

Four Chinese Coast Guard ships, each apparently equipped with a cannon, have temporarily entered Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Japan Coast Guard officials said the vessels entered the territorial waters off Minamikojima Island one after another from around 10:30 a.m. on Friday. They added that all the ships had left the waters by around half past noon.

The JCG headquarters said each ship looked like it had a cannon. The headquarters said this is the first time all ships in a group entering were confirmed to have such apparent arms. It said in many past navigations by four Chinese government ships, only one had a cannon.

The Japanese coast guard is warning and monitoring that no Chinese vessels will enter the waters again.

This is the 17th time this year and the first since May 25 that Chinese government ships have entered Japan's territorial waters off the islands.

The four vessels had been spotted in the contiguous zone just outside the territorial waters earlier on Friday.

Chinese government ships have recently been navigating in the contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands almost daily. They have been spotted for 169 straight days from December 22 last year through Friday. That's the longest since the Japanese government acquired ownership of some of the Senkaku Islands from a Japanese owner in 2012.

Japan controls the islands. China and Taiwan claim them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory, in terms of history and international law. It says there is no issue of sovereignty to be resolved over them.