Japan will ensure safety of Japanese nationals in China -govt spokesperson

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s top government spokesperson said on Tuesday that Tokyo would do its utmost to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in China as the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea has chilled ties.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno was asked during a news conference how the Japanese government planned to secure the safety of Japanese citizens during the upcoming Asian Games in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

In response, Matsuno said the government has asked China to take all necessary steps for their safety and has provided safety information to Japanese nationals.

The Chinese foreign ministry said China has always ensured the safety and legitimate rights and interests of foreigners in China in accordance with the law, adding that China “looks forward to athletes from all countries” competing at the games.

Matsuno also told the news conference that the Japan Coast Guard in July found a buoy within Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea, where Tokyo and Beijing have overlapping claims over a group of tiny uninhabited islets.

The Japanese government filed a complaint against China promptly and asked for immediate removal, he said.

“Setting up a construct in Japan’s exclusive economic zone without consent is in violation of rules of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Matsuno said.

“We will deal with the matter firmly and calmly, based on the intention to protect our territory, territorial waters and air space decisively.”

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Liz Lee in Beijing; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)