Reuters) - Japan lodged a protest with China on Wednesday against the entry of Chinese patrol ships into waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea, an issue that has long been a cause of friction between Asia's two biggest economies.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said three Chinese fishery patrol ships entered waters near the uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The islands, claimed Beijing and Tokyo as well as Taipei, are located near rich fishing grounds and potentially huge oil and gas reserves.
Japan said last week it was considering a plan to buy the islands from private landowners instead of letting the nationalist governor of Tokyo go ahead with a similar plan, a move diplomatic experts said may have been intended to dampen tensions but which risked backfiring and sending Sino-Japanese ties into a deep chill.
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