BEIJING: A Chinese military ship entered the waters of south-western Japan on Wednesday, government officials said.
This is the first such incident in over a decade and comes a week after a Chinese navy ship sailed near the disputed Senkaku islands, EFE news reported.
The military ship, equipped with intelligence technology, entered Japanese territorial waters near the Kuchinoerabu island, at 3.30 a.m., the officials from Japan's defence ministry told public broadcaster NHK.
The ship, which was detected by the P-3 aircraft of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, was sailing south-east and exited Japanese waters around 5.00 a.m., according to the officials.
A spokesperson of the Japanese government confirmed the incident and said Tokyo has asked Beijing for explanations.
Last week, the Japanese government had lodged a formal protest after a Chinese navy ship sailed near the Senkaku islands.
Although incursions by Chinese coast guard ships in waters near Senkaku are common, this was the first time a navy ship did so.
The incursion on Wednesday is also the first by a Chinese military ship since 2004 when a nuclear submarine had sailed near the Ishigaki island, although on that occasion it occurred in an area very close to the main islands of the Japanese archipelago.
Situated in the South China Sea, the uninhabited Senkaku Islands have a total surface area of around seven square km and are believed to be rich in marine and energy resources.