A diplomatic storm is brewing anew between Japan and China after the two Asian superpowers unleashed blistering words over contested islands in the East China Sea.
The war of words seemingly erupted after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would not tolerate China’s use of force to change the region’s status quo.
“We will show the nation’s determination not to allow any change in the current situation by force,” Abe told Japanese troops during a military parade in the outlying areas of Tokyo.
Previously, Abe vowed to shoot down foreign drones intruding into Japan’s territorial airspace, in a veiled warning to China.
Chinese officials were quick to slam Abe’s “provocative” remarks and criticized Japanese politicians for deceiving themselves.
“The repeated remarks on China by Japanese leaders are provocations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing. “This again shows the pretentious Japanese politicians are deceiving themselves.”
Hua added that China believes that Japan broke the regional balance of power through unilateral actions.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng responded to reports that Japan asserted its right to shoot down unmanned drones that come into its airspace, saying it was an “act of war.”
“China absolutely does not permit other countries’ aircraft to violate China’s airspace,” Geng said, according to a statement on the ministry’s website. “Any such action by Japan would be a serious provocation, it’s an act of war, and we will take decisive measures to fight back.”
Japanese fighter jets were scrambled near the disputed Senkaku, or Diaoyu, islands after Chinese flotillas entered into Japan’s territorial waters over the weekend.
China increased surveillance vessels and aircraft to the islands it claims as an “inherent part of the Chinese territory” since Tokyo purchased three islets in September 2012.
Japan has sternly protested against Chinese incursions in recent months. “We are a country governed by law, so it is a matter of course for us to adhere strictly to international law,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: Al Jazeera English/Flickr