Japan PM criticises targeting of firms in China row

TOKYO (AFP) - China was "wrong" to deliberately target Japanese business interests as part of a state campaign in a row over disputed territory, Japan's hawkish new prime minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday.

"For political ends, harming Japanese companies and individuals in China that contribute to the Chinese economy and society - I want to say it is wrong for a responsible nation state in the international community," Mr Abe said.

"It not only harms bilateral relations, it has a significantly negative influence on China's economy and its society," he said at a news conference in the latest barb aimed at China.

Japan's ties with China have remained tense for months as the two nations repeatedly stage maritime standoffs in waters around disputed isles called the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China.

Chinese government ships have been seen off the disputed islands numerous times since Japan nationalised them in September, sometimes within the 12 nautical mile territorial zone.

A state-owned Chinese plane flew through airspace over the islands early last month. Tokyo responded by scrambling fighter jets and said it was the first time Beijing had breached its airspace since at least 1958.

"Regarding Senkaku, there is no change to my position to resolutely protect this water and territory. There is no room for negotiation on this," Mr Abe said.