Tokyo: Japan`s hawkish new Premier Shinzo Abe on Friday said China was "wrong" in intentionally allowing Japanese nationals and businesses to be harmed over the raging East China Sea row to achieve its "political goal".
"It was wrong as a country responsible to the international community to (allow) damage to Japanese- affiliated companies and Japanese nationals in order to achieve a political goal," Abe said at a press conference, commenting on last year`s anti-Japanese riots triggered by a territorial row over the East China Sea islands.
Abe`s comments came as the Japanese Cabinet approved a stimulus package that includes extra defence spending.
The relationship between Japan and China has been strained since Japan purchased some of the Senkakus Islands, known as Diaoyu in China, in September last year. The row caused anti-Japanese protests across China, some violent.
As the row gathered pace, protests took place in a number of Chinese cities and several Japanese companies, particularly automakers, had their sales and operations disrupted.
Abe also reiterated that Japan`s sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by China, is "not negotiable" and vowed to "resolutely protect Japanese territory," Kyodo news agency reported.
At the same time, Abe said he hopes to improve ties with China, adding that attacks on Japanese businesses and people in China "not only harm the two countries` bilateral ties but also inflict significant negative damage on China`s economy and its society."
Chinese ships have also been sailing in and out of what Japan says are its territorial waters around the islands in recent months.
Last month, Japanese officials said a Chinese government plane had violated Japan`s airspace around the islands for the first time since records began in 1958.
Yesterday, Japanese fighters were also dispatched from Okinawa after Chinese military planes were seen in the area.
While stressing Japan`s "resolute stance" to protect the islands, Abe said he aims to boost security and economic cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
He is set to visit Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia next week for his first overseas tour since regaining the Premiership in late December.
"My visit to the ASEAN countries will be crucially important," Abe said. "Promoting ties between Japan and ASEAN countries will contribute to the region`s stability."
Abe said he will take the trip as an opportunity to convey "his ideas on foreign policy toward Asia."
The Premier`s visit will follow Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida`s tour of three Southeast Asian nations -- the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei -- as well as Australia.