World Bulletin/News Desk
China lodged a formal protest with Japan on Saturday over plans by a Japanese nationalist group including lawmakers to hold a ceremony commemorating Japanese dead from World War Two near disputed islands in the East China Sea this weekend, state news agency Xinhua said.
The group of more than 100 people travelling in a flotilla of boats is expected to arrive near the islands on Sunday morning. Japan's government has denied the group permission to land on the islands.
The report said China had lodged "solemn representations" with Japan over the matter, a term official media uses to indicate a particularly high level of diplomatic opposition.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that China had urged the Japanese government to immediately "stop the action that seeks to undermine China's territorial sovereignty" over the rocky, uninhabited isles known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, Xinhua said.
Japan on Friday sent home Chinese activists who were detained on Wednesday after landing on one of the islands.
China welcomed the return of the activists, but also warned its neighbour against any further escalation in tension.
Japan occupied much of China during the war and colonised the Korean peninsula, resulting in territorial disputes that continue to dog relations with its neighbours nearly seven decades after the end of World War Two.
"Immediately after the aircraft carrier arrived in the Sea of Japan, South Korea and the US strike forces launched a drill from 6:00 pm (0900 GMT) Saturday", a defence ministry spokesman said.
The amphibious assault ship arrived at the Sasebo naval base in southwestern Japan ahead of the first joint exercise among Japan, France, the US and the UK.
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Duterte, who has faced international condemnation for his own crackdown on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, also insisted that outsiders should not interfere in Southeast Asia's affairs.
The government's human rights commission discovered a dozen men and women packed into the tiny cell behind a wooden cabinet during an unannounced visit to a police station in a Manila slum neighbourhood on Thursday.
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Comparisons with the characters of a popular Chinese television drama called "In the Name of the People" -- which also happens to be the slogan of French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen -- have flooded China's Twitter-like Weibo.
Diplomats in Manila said the other parties apparently refer to the United States and regional powers China, Japan and South Korea -- all key strategic players in the region.
Human Rights Watch said the incident was another sign of widespread rights abuse under Duterte's war on drugs, which has seen thousands of drug suspects killed either by policemen or mysterious vigilantes.