Japan has lodged a protest with China after two Chinese government ships approached a Japanese fishing boat near the disputed Senkaku Islands, the government's top spokesman said Monday

The China Coast Guard ships intruded in Japanese territorial waters near the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea at around 10:47 a.m. Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.

The Japan Coast Guard has arrived at the scene and is protecting the fishing boat while ordering the Chinese ships to leave the area, Kato said.

"Japan has strongly protested the matter through diplomatic channels in both Tokyo and Beijing. We will continue to act calmly but firmly regarding China," he said, adding, "We will continue to patrol and maintain surveillance around the Senkaku Islands to ensure a safe fishing environment."

China has been stepping up its claim to the Japan-administered islets, which it calls Diaoyu. Earlier this month it created a digital museum that it says "helps viewers further understand the indisputable fact" that they are China's inherent territory.