Japan called on China on Wednesday to play a "responsible role" in ensuring peace and security in Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry said, after the United States said that Beijing is considering supplying weapons to Moscow.

During the first security dialogue by senior officials from the two Asian nations in four years in Tokyo, Japan and China also agreed to facilitate mutual communication in the defense field amid a spat over suspected spy balloons flown by Beijing.

Senior Japanese and Chinese officials hold their first security dialogue in four years on Feb. 22, 2023, at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Friday, Tokyo "strongly demanded" that Beijing uphold peace and stability of the international community, the Japanese ministry said.

As for the suspected Chinese surveillance balloons, Japanese Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Shigeo Yamada expressed "serious concern" about their flights and elaborated on the country's stance on the issue, the ministry said.

At the outset of the talks, Yamada also brought up the situation surrounding the Tokyo-controlled, Beijing-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and the ruling Communist Party's intensifying military activities in collaboration with Russia.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong, meanwhile, sought a "responsible explanation" about Japan's recently revised policy documents that call for a reinforcement of the security alliance with the United States.

Sun warned against Tokyo's "negative moves" with regard to Taiwan "in collusion with powers outside the region," in an apparent reference to Japan's intention to bolster security relations with its ally the United States.

Atsushi Ando, deputy director general of the Japanese Defense Ministry's Defense Policy Bureau, and Zhang Baoqun, deputy director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of the Chinese Central Military Commission, accompanied the gathering.

The meeting came after the Japanese government said last week that at least three unidentified flying objects spotted over the nation's territorial skies from 2019 to 2021 are "strongly suspected" to have been Chinese unmanned balloons used for espionage.

Tokyo said it requested that no such incidents happen again and that Beijing get to the bottom of the cases, adding that Japan would never accept any violation of its territorial skies.

China has denied its involvement and criticized Japan for "making up stories to smear and attack" Beijing without showing any clear evidence, urging Tokyo to stop following Washington's lead in inflating Chinese threats.

To dispel fears about the suspected Chinese spy balloons, the Japanese government has decided to relax the conditions for the Self-Defense Forces to use weapons against unmanned flying objects intruding into the country's airspace.

On Feb. 4, the United States shot down what appeared to be a Chinese balloon off the U.S. east coast, renewing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The security dialogue was the first between the two nations since Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office in October 2021, the last one having taken place in Beijing in February 2019.

Sino-U.S. confrontation has been also escalating over Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island regarded by China as a renegade province to be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

In Wednesday's dialogue, Japan underscored "the importance of peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait," as mentioned in the government's three key defense documents that were updated in December.

In the documents, Japan pledged to enhance its deterrence by obtaining "counterstrike capabilities" to strike targets in enemy territory in case of emergency while promising to double its defense spending, drawing a backlash from China.

For years, the two Asian powers have remained at loggerheads over the Senkakus, which Beijing calls Diaoyu. Chinese coast guard vessels have repeatedly entered Japanese waters around the group of the uninhabited islets.

The dialogue participants also confirmed the two governments will continue promoting arrangements ahead of the planned spring launch of a hotline between the respective defense authorities, designed to avoid a military contingency, according to the ministry.

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