TOKYO, April 17 (UPI) -- Japan lodged a protest with China for accusing Tokyo in its defense white paper of "making trouble" over the Senkaku Islands.
The uninhabited islands in the East China Sea are under Japanese control, but they are also claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu Islands. The bilateral dispute has become intense since last September when Japan nationalized them, and the issue has led to violent protests in China and affected their $345 billion worth of bilateral trade.
In its defense white paper released Tuesday, China said, "On the issues concerning China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some neighboring countries are taking actions that complicate or exacerbate the situation, and Japan is making trouble over the issue of the Diaoyu Islands."
The Japanese Foreign Ministry summoned a senior official at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo to hand over its protest of the report, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told reporters.
"There has been no territorial issue to be addressed. (Japan) would never accept words and deeds based on Chinese claims," Seko said, Kyodo News reported.
China's claims to the Senkaku Islands along with its aggressive claims to much the South China Sea have raised international concerns in light of China's growing military might. Some of China's neighbors also have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
In the Senkakus, China has been routinely dispatching its marine surveillance vessels to the islands to reinforce its claims, which also have drawn Japanese protests.
In its white paper, China said the Asia-Pacific region has become an increasingly significant stage for world economic development and strategic interaction between major powers.
A Chinese National Defense Ministry spokesman said the government and the country's armed forces are determined and able to safeguard China's sovereignty over the islands. He also said China has always advocated peaceful ways as well as dialogue and consultations to settle territorial disputes.
The United States has said it does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, but it recognizes they are under the administration of Japan. That policy was stressed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his Japan visit this week.