Tokyo: China's "coercive" behaviour in waters around islands at the centre of a bitter dispute with Japan are dangerous and could trigger an incident, Tokyo said in a new defense paper today.

Hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ministers adopted the annual defense white paper at a cabinet meeting, which warned of the risks as the two Asian rivals lock horns in their territorial dispute.

It was the first annual report on the nation's defense capabilities and regional security since Tokyo took three of the five Senkaku islands out of private ownership. Beijing lays claim to the islands, and calls them the Diaoyus.

"China ... has taken action described as coercive, which includes risky behaviour," the 450-page report said. "China's activities include its intrusion into Japan's territorial waters, its violation of Japan's territorial airspace and even dangerous actions that could cause a contingency," it said.

In particular, the paper said a Chinese frigate locked weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer in January -- a claim Beijing has denied. "These acts are extremely regrettable and China should accept and stick to the international norms," it said.

Ships from the two countries have for months traded warnings over intrusions into what both regard as their sovereign areas around the islands, which are strategically sited and rich in resources.

Chinese government ships have regularly sailed into the 12 nautical mile territorial waters of the islands, where they are confronted by Japan's well-equipped coastguard. The most recent incident was on Sunday.


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