China and South Korea yesterday lashed out at a Japanese foreign relations report that stood firm on territorial claims which have put Tokyo on a collision course with its Asian neighbours.
An angry South Korea summoned Japan's ambassador in response to the annual paper, while Beijing warned that Japan was "turning a blind eye to basic facts" and making "ungrounded accusations against China".
The Foreign Ministry-issued document, called the "diplomatic blue book", said the security environment in the AsiaPacific region had become "increasingly more severe" with emerging powers such as China and India expanding their global presence.
Tokyo has renewed its claim to islands in the East China Sea, also claimed by Beijing, and sovereignty over a disputed island chain known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea.
The report criticised China's efforts to "change the status quo by force" in the region, and said Beijing's territorial claims amounted to "assertions incompatible with the existing order of international law".
Beijing has claimed ownership of almost all of the South China Sea, angering other regional neighbours including the Philippines.
It has also routinely sent ships near Tokyo-controlled islands called the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China.
China announced a new air defence zone over the islands last year, sparking sharp protests from the US, Japan and South Korea.
The policy paper said Tokyo would try to improve thorny relations with China, as Asia's two biggest economies "share responsibility" for regional peace and stability. Beijing dismissed the report, and made an apparent reference to Abe's efforts to turn pacifist Japan's self-defence forces into a regular army.
"The new version of the diplomatic blue paper turns a blind eye to basic facts, and maliciously makes unfounded accusations against China," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular press briefing in Beijing.
"Peace and development are the trend of the times. What Japan has done is to make excuses to serve its diplomatic purposes of arms expansion and war preparation. This is a deliberate action to stir up tensions."
South Korea summoned the Japanese ambassador over what it saw as a fresh move by Japan to stake its claim and a plan to promote the stance in all elementary school textbooks.