Japan expressed concern Wednesday about Chinese military activity around Taiwan in the wake of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island, stressing the need for a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues amid heightened tensions.
Similar concerns were echoed by foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, which includes Japan, the United States, Britain and France. They reaffirmed in a statement their "shared commitment to maintaining the rules-based international order, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and beyond."
In Tokyo, Japan's top government spokesman Hiroakazu Matsuno said peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is important not only for the security of Japan but also the world.
"We hope issues concerning Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through dialogue," Matsuno told a press briefing.
Tokyo conveyed its concern to China over the planned military drills near the self-ruled island, which Beijing views as its own, saying the affected area overlaps with Japan's exclusive economic zone.
The military exercises, including live-fire drills, are expected to take place in six locations around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.
Japan has been closely watching the U.S. House speaker's Taiwan visit, the first by the holder of the powerful congressional post in 25 years, to gauge its impact on regional security.
Asked if Japan supports Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, Matsuno said, "We are not in a position to comment."
The high-profile visit has led to a spike in tensions between China and the United States. Beijing had warned that the Chinese military would "never sit idly by," while Washington said the visit would not signal a change in its policy on Taiwan.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Japan has maintained close economic ties with Taiwan since severing diplomatic relations with Taipei and establishing them with Beijing in 1972.
Heightened cross-strait tensions -- and the risk of a contingency -- are a concern for Japan due to its proximity to Taiwan. Japan and China are at loggerheads over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, uninhabited islets that are administered by Japan but claimed by China.
"It's in our neighborhood. We should avoid a situation in which (the drills) would affect Japan in any way," a senior government official said.
The G-7 foreign ministers said in their statement that they are "concerned by recent and announced threatening actions" by China, particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion.
"There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait," they said, warning that Beijing's "escalatory response risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region."
"We call on the PRC not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region," the G-7 said, referring to the acronym of the People's Republic of China, the country's official name.
The other G-7 members are Canada, Germany and Italy, plus the European Union.
As part of her tour of Asia, Pelosi is scheduled to visit Japan later this week and could meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Matsuno said the government "welcomes" her first visit to Japan in seven years as an opportunity to promote bilateral exchanges.