Tokyo protests People's Daily report doubting Japan's Okinawa rule

The Japanese government has lodged a protest with China about a commentary run by the Chinese Communist Party's official organ questioning Japan's sovereignty over Okinawa Prefecture, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Thursday.

Tokyo told Beijing through diplomatic channels Wednesday it "strongly protests" if the commentary printed in the day's edition of the People's Daily represents the Chinese government's stance, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga said at a press conference.

The Chinese side said in response that the commentary was written by the author in his capacity as a researcher, according to Suga.

The protest came amid heightened bilateral tensions due to a dispute over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China claims the uninhabited islets as Diaoyu.

Okinawa Prefecture, which has jurisdiction over the islands under the Japanese local government system, is "unquestionably Japan's territory historically and internationally," Suga told the press conference.

The commentary calls for a reconsideration of Japan's sovereignty over Okinawa, saying that it was nullified with Tokyo's defeat in World War II.