Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has maintained that he is open to dialogue with China, even as he sharply criticised Beijing's recent establishment of an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea as a "dangerous act".
"(The establishment of the ADIZ) constitutes a dangerous act that unilaterally changed the status quo in the East China Sea, escalating the situation, and that may cause unintended consequences," Mr Abe said in an interview with Asean journalists ahead of an Asean-Japan commemorative summit this weekend.
He also argued that China, by issuing a vague warning that it would carry out "emergency procedures" against aircraft that did not abide by Beijing's instructions for the ADIZ, is violating the general principle of international law that prescribes freedom of flight in international airspace.
Furthermore, the Chinese air zone appears to include a group of disputed East China Sea isles - called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan - as though they were part of China's territorial airspace, said Mr Abe, adding: "Japan can never accept nor tolerate it."
The Chinese ADIZ, announced last month, has also sparked strong criticism from the United States and South Korea, which expanded its own ADIZ earlier this month.
Despite the chill in China-Japan ties, Mr Abe described relations between the two neighbours as "inseparable", adding: "My door for dialogue is always open and I hope and expect that China will take the same attitude."
Leaders from Asean and Japan are expected to adddress the rise in regional tension when they meet for a summit on Saturday to mark 40 years of engagement.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives in Tokyo today ahead of the weekend's summit.