BEIJING — Japanese and Taiwanese ships shot water cannon at each other Tuesday in the latest confrontation over tiny islands in the East China Sea, as Japan met with another rival, China, in an effort to tamp down tensions.

About 40 Taiwanese fishing boats and 12 patrol boats entered waters near the islands on Tuesday morning, briefly triggering an exchange of water cannon fire with Japanese coast guard ships. Coast guard officials said the Taiwanese vessels had ignored warnings to get out of their territory, and the Taiwanese ships pulled back after being fired upon.

It was Taiwan's first foray into the waters around the uninhabited islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, since the Japanese government purchased some of them from private owners two weeks ago. China, Japan and Taiwan all claim the islands, but they are administered by Tokyo.

The purchase has sparked sometimes violent protests in China and informal boycotts of Japanese products. Many Chinese have canceled vacations to Japan over the dispute. Japanese airline JAL says it plans to cut six flights a day from Japan to Beijing and Shanghai from Oct. 10 to 27 after the canceling of 15,500 seat reservations.

China has also dispatched government marine monitoring vessels to patrol around the islands.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai, flanked by their aides, held a meeting on the dispute Tuesday at China's Foreign Ministry.

While the talks were under way, China's Cabinet, the State Council, released a white paper via the official Xinhua News Agency on the history of the islands, part of a propaganda blitz aimed at bolstering China's claim.

After the four-hour meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said both sides exchanged views "frankly and deeply" and agreed to continue discussions. He reiterated that "China will never tolerate Japan's unilateral acts which violate China's territorial sovereignty."

Deputy press secretary for Japan's Foreign Ministry, Naoko Saiki, said the two sides agreed to continue contacts but had not scheduled another meeting.

Speaking on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Saiki asserted that Japan's claim to the islands was beyond dispute. She acknowledged that comprise will be difficult to reach but said they should keep talking to stabilize the situation. She said the presence of Chinese and Taiwanese vessels risks a "miscalculation" or "accident."

"As far as territory or sovereignty is concerned, it's quite difficult for any party including Japan to make a compromise," Saiki said. "We don't want to have any wars or battles or use of force. We have to stabilize the situation through dialogue in a peaceful manner, in accordance with international law."

While both governments appeared publicly to be seeking to calm tensions, gamesmanship around the islands continued Tuesday.

Japanese coast guard officials said their ships fired water cannon after the Taiwanese fishing boats and government patrol boats violated Japanese territorial waters and ignored warnings to move out. After shooting water back, the Taiwanese boats left Japanese waters, they said.

Japanese patrol boats only fired at fishing vessels, said Hideaki Takase, a coast guard official.

"Shooting water cannon at an official vessel is like waging a war against its country," he said.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou supports the "protecting Diaoyutai campaign" launched by local fishermen, and offered praise to Taiwan's coast guard for its role in escorting the Taiwanese vessels to the island area, said his spokesman, Fan Chiang Tai-chi.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Tokyo requested, through diplomatic channels, that Taiwan stop violating its waters.

"We will continue to keep our guard up to protect the area," he said. "Japan sticks to our principle that we should resolve the issue while maintaining friendly relations between Japan and Taiwan."

Chinese boats have also briefly entered the waters around the islands in recent weeks, but Japanese coast guard vessels didn't fire water cannon at them. A coast guard official said Chinese vessels usually exit the Japanese waters more quickly after warnings.

About 10 Chinese vessels are still lingering just outside the Japanese waters off the islands. The fleet size has decreased over the last few days, Japanese coast guard officials said.

"Both sides hope to see the escalation in tensions ease up because confrontation does no good to either, but so far we haven't seen any room for compromise," Liang Yunxiang, a Japan expert at Peking University, said Tuesday.

___

Associated Press writers Malcolm Foster and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Peter Enav in Taipei, Taiwan, and Matthew Pennington in New York, and researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.

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  • A Japan Coast Guard patrol boat sprays water against a Taiwanese fishing boat, top, near disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. Japanese coast guard ships fired water cannon to push back Taiwanese vessels Tuesday in the latest confrontation over a group of the tiny islands, as the main contenders, China and Japan, opened talks in a diplomatic effort to tamp down tensions. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, a Taiwan Coast Guard patrol boat, left, sprays its water cannon towards a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat off the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands- within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, a Japanese Coast Guard crew member records Taiwanese fishing boats from his patrol boat near the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands- within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • A Japan Coast Guard's patrol boat, left bottom, discharges water against Taiwanese fishing boats near disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters, said Yasuhiko Oku, an official with the Japanese coast guard. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • Several dozen fishing boats set out from the Suao harbor, northeastern Taiwan, to the disputed islands in the East China Sea, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan, and have been a key part of simmering regional tensions over rival territorial claims. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • Several dozen fishing boats flying Taiwanese national flags set out from the Suao harbor, northeastern Taiwan, to the disputed islands in the East China Sea, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan, and have been a key part of simmering regional tensions over rival territorial claims. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • Activists unfurl a banner featuring a photo of the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands with a slogan reading "Welcome warriors who protected Diaoyu islands" on the fishing vessel "Kai Fung No. 2" after arriving in Hong Kong Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. A group of Hong Kong activists deported from Japan after landing on disputed islands in the East China Sea returned home in their fishing boat to a hero's welcome. The seven activists who returned Wednesday were part of a 14-person group that evaded the Japanese Coast Guard to reach the islands a week ago. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

  • A Japan Coast Guard's patrol boat, third from the top, and a Taiwanese patrol boat, 4th from the top, discharge water each other near disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters, said Yasuhiko Oku, an official with the Japanese coast guard. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • aerial

    A fishing boat sails near disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. It's unclear that the boat is from China or Taiwan. Tensions have been growing for months in the dispute over ownership of East China Sea islands. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE

  • A Japan Coast Guard's patrol boat, center, and a Taiwanese patrol boat, top, discharge water each other near disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters, said Yasuhiko Oku, an official with the Japanese coast guard. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • aerial

    Japan Coast Guard's patrol boats, Taiwanese patrol boats and Taiwanese fishing boats sail near disputed islands, seen in the background, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters, said Yasuhiko Oku, an official with the Japanese coast guard. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • In this photo released by Central News Agency, a Taiwanese Coast Guard patrol boat escorts a smaller Taiwanese fishing boat near the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, a Taiwan Coast Guard patrol boat, front, comes in close proximity with a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat near the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands- within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, a Taiwan Coast Guard patrol boat, center, comes in close proximity with a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat near the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat, front, comes in close proximity with a Taiwan Coast Guard patrol boat near the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands- within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat, left, maneuvers around Taiwanese fishing boats near the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, Japan Coast Guard patrol boats spray their water cannons towards a Taiwan Coast Guard patrol boat and Taiwanese fishing boats near the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands - within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • Japanese fishing boats sail around the disputed islands in the East China Sea, which are called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, during an unofficial "fishing" trip to waters off the islands Sunday, June 10, 2012. Japanese lawmakers pushing for a tougher stance in a dispute with China over the uninhabited islands said Monday the country should allow a team of experts to travel there to study development possibilities and environmental issues. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, Koji Harada) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE

  • In this photo released by Taiwan's Central News Agency, a Taiwanese fishing boat comes close to the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. On Tuesday morning, about 50 Taiwanese fishing boats accompanied by 10 Taiwanese surveillance ships came within almost 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) of the disputed islands- within what Japan considers to be its territorial waters. (AP Photo/Central News Agency) TAIWAN OUT

  • A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C Orion surveillance plane flies over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. Ties between the countries deteriorated sharply last year when a Chinese fishing boat captain was arrested, and later released, by Japan after his boat collided with a Japanese patrol boat in disputed waters near the Japanese-controlled islands. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN JAPAN, CHINA, HONG KONG, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE