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Chinese government ships have been seen near the disputed Senkaku Islands for 65 days in a row as of Wednesday — the longest period since September 2012, when the Japanese government bought some of the tiny islets from private Japanese owners — media reports said.

Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said the same day that Tokyo will take all possible measures to ensure surveillance of the areas around the Japanese-administered islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu, in the East China Sea.

Suga told a news conference that Japan had protested to China over the issue and would respond firmly and calmly.

Last month, two China Coast Guard ships entered the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands and pursued a Japanese fishing boat that was operating in the area. Several Japan Coast Guard ships patrolling nearby warned the Chinese vessels off, and took steps to protect the fishing boat, reportedly leading to a tense face-off.

The Japanese government has long complained about China’s routine dispatch of its coast guard ships to waters surrounding the islands.

Relations between Japan and China deteriorated in 2012, when Tokyo effectively nationalized some of the disputed islets and tensions still flare up over the issue.

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