Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani has warned that Beijing's land reclamation projects in the disputed waters around the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea may lead to the destabilization of the region; he urged all those nations which are involved in the issue to behave responsibly.
"If we leave any unlawful situation unattended, order will soon turn to disorder, and peace and stability will collapse. I hope and expect that all the countries, including China, will behave as responsible powers,"Nakatani said during the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.
Apart from China, the Spratlys are claimed by half a dozen countries, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Neither Japan nor the United States have any territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The past few months have seen the escalation of tensions over China building up artificial islands in the area, a move that was harshly criticized by the United States during the Singapore gathering.
According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, China's land reclamation in the South China Sea is out of step with international rules, and turning underwater land into airfields won't expand its sovereignty.
A Chinese military officer was quick to respond by slamming Carter's remarks as "groundless and not constructive". The officer also touted his country's actions as "reasonable and justified."
Carter has, meanwhile, warned that aside from China, other countries which are implementing smaller land reclamation projects in the South China Sea should halt their activity.