Chinese government vessels entered Japanese territorial waters near the flash point Senkaku Islands on Saturday — the first time since China passed a new law earlier this month that allows its coast guard to use military force in waters the country claims — including those around the Senkakus.

Two China Coast Guard vessels, including one from its second-largest class of ships, entered the waters around the Japanese-administered Senkakus, which Beijing claims and calls the Diaoyu, around 4:45 a.m. on Saturday, approaching two Japanese fishing boats operating in the area, the Japan Coast Guard said in a statement.

The Japan Coast Guard said it had sent vessels to the area to protect the fishing ships while repeatedly urging the Chinese ships to leave the area. Two other Chinese government ships, including one sporting a cannon-like weapon, were spotted in the so-called contiguous zone just outside the territorial waters, it added.