Chinese coast guard ships sailed near the disputed Senkaku Islands almost every day last month, the Japanese government said Monday.

In February, China Coast Guard ships were spotted inside the contiguous zone surrounding Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkakus on 26 days, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a news conference.

These ships intruded into Japan’s territorial waters on six occasions, in which they approached Japanese fishing boats on five occasions, Kato said.

The uninhabited islets are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu.

On Feb. 1, China put into effect a law that allows its coast guard to use force against foreign parties for what Beijing views as violations of its sovereignty or jurisdiction.

Kato added that as of 8 a.m. Monday, two Chinese coast guard ships were spotted inside the contiguous zone around the islets in the East China Sea.

The top government spokesman described as “extremely serious” the current situation in which Chinese coast guard ships frequently sail off the Senkakus and even intrude into Japan’s territorial waters.

“It’s necessary to continue watching the situation with a sense of tension,” he said.

Chinese government ships entered the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands a record 333 days last year.

Kato declined to comment on the impact of the new Chinese law.

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