China has accused Japan's coast guard of injuring activists aboard a Hong Kong ship that was turned back as it tried to visit Japanese-controlled islands claimed by both countries.
The activists turned back on Friday after initially defying Jap-anese warnings in an attempt to reach the uninhabited islands, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan.
China's Foreign Ministry accused Japan's coast guard of injuring the activists and damaging their ship, though it gave no details. It said a ministry official met on Friday with Japanese embassy officials and affirmed China's position.
The territorial dispute is one of a series of conflicts that have strained relations between Beijing and Tokyo.
They also are at odds over undersea gas and oil deposits and Japanese officials' visits to a Tokyo war shrine.
"China had demanded through diplomatic channels that Japan should not take any action which may endanger those Chinese citizens and their vessel ... but its illegal and tough actions injured the Chinese citizens and damaged their ship. We protest against this move of Japan,'' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Japan coast guard official Koji Yoshida said the Hong Kong ship came within about 13km of the islands, despite warnings to stay away.
He said coast guard vessels sprayed water at the ship with fire hoses.
A spokesman for the activists, Ku Kwai-yiu, said they abandoned their attempt to land on the islands, alleging that Japanese vessels had rammed their ship.
The group said about 25 activists departed in the ship from Hong Kong on Sunday, planning to hold a peaceful protest on the islands against Japan's sovereignty claim.