TOKYO (AFP, REUTERS) – Japan’s prime minister on Friday (Aug 5) condemned China’s firing of ballistic missiles during military drills around Taiwan, calling them a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”.

Five Chinese missiles appear to have fallen in the country’s exclusive economic zone, Tokyo has said, with four of those believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island.

“China’s actions this time around have a serious impact on the peace and stability of our region and the international community,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after meeting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for breakfast.

“I told her that we have called for the immediate cancellation of the military drills,” he said.

Mr Kishida said he and Mrs Pelosi discussed geopolitical issues including matters related to North Korea, China and Russia, as well as efforts towards a nuclear-free world.

Mrs Pelosi is in Tokyo for the final leg of an Asian tour, following a visit to Taiwan that Beijing answered with unprecedented military drills and missile launches including five that landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Mrs Pelosi’s brief trip to Taiwan, where she arrived unannounced with a congressional delegation late on Tuesday and left on Wednesday, marked the highest-level US visit to the self-ruled island, which China claims as its own, in 25 years.

It also came as Tokyo, one of Washington’s closest allies, has been increasingly alarmed about China’s growing might in the Indo-Pacific and the possibility that Beijing could take military action against Taiwan.

Mrs Pelosi lauded Taiwan’s democracy and pledged American solidarity. Beijing responded with military drills that a state broadcaster said would be the largest by China in the Taiwan Strait, including live firing on the waters and in the airspace around the island.

Five missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), prompting Tokyo to lodge a strong protest through economic channels.

Japan, whose southernmost islands are closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, has warned that Chinese intimidation of Taiwan is an escalating national security threat.

Mr Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has also pledged to double military spending to 2 per cent of GDP.

Tensions between Japan and China ramped up a notch on Thursday when China announced that a meeting between the two nations’ foreign ministers, set to take place on the sidelines of an Asean meeting in Cambodia, had been called off due to its displeasure with a G-7 statement urging Beijing to resolve Taiwan tension peacefully.