Japan controlled the islands during World War II, until it surrendered in 1945.
China pledged to have a “firm response” if Japan further fans regional tensions and “threatens China’s sovereignty and security.” The statement comes after a Reuters report that Japan will send its largest warship to the disputed South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing on Thursday that based on its own interests, Japan has recently been compromising stability in the South China Sea, “causing strong dissatisfaction and opposition from the Chinese people.”
“If Japan persists in taking wrong actions, and even considers military interventions that threaten China’s sovereignty and security… then China will inevitably take firm responsive measures,” she said.
Hua’s comments come after Reuters reported earlier this week that Japan plans to dispatch its Izumo helicopter carrier to the disputed waters of the South China Sea for a three-month tour starting in May, citing three separate sources.
The anti-submarine Izumo, which measures 249 meters (816 feet) long and can operate up to nine helicopters, will reportedly make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar 2017 trilateral naval exercise with Indian and US naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July, marking Tokyo’s biggest show of naval force since World War II.