Tokyo said on Wednesday that it had protested “extremely inappropriate remarks” by China’s ambassador to Japan earlier this week, which appeared to insinuate that the Japanese people would be “brought into the fire” of conflict over support for self-ruled Taiwan.

The government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi, said Tokyo had lodged a “severe protest” with Beijing over Ambassador Wu Jianghao's remarks before a group of Japanese politicians and scholars on Monday, which coincided with a delegation from Japan attending the inauguration of new Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te.

Beijing regards the new Taiwanese leader as a “dangerous separatist,” with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi late Tuesday describing Lai as “disgraceful.”