Tokyo, Jan 4 : Japan has expressed grave concern over China carrying out a test flight to a runway on an island in a disputed part of the South China Sea, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday.
Vietnam on Saturday protested China's test flight to the airfield on Fiery Cross Reef. A Vietnamese government spokesman said the airfield was built illegally. Vietnam is one of the claimants over the disputed Spratly Islands.
China rejected the protest, saying it will not accept the accusation, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Kishida called the flight an "action to unilaterally change the status quo".
He suggested it was an attempt to further make a fait accompli of China's reclamation of disputed areas.
Kishida called on China to refrain from such acts, saying that they do not contribute to a peaceful resolution of the dispute.
Kishida said China's large-scale rapid reclamation and construction of bases in the waters are a matter of concern common to the international community.
He said Japan will continue to deal with the issue in cooperation with the international community to protect the open and free seas.