Group of Seven (G7) leaders agreed on Thursday on the need to send a strong message on maritime claims in the western Pacific, where an increasingly assertive China is locked in territorial disputes with Japan and several Southeast Asian nations.
The agreement prompted a sharp rejoinder from China, which is not in the G7 club but whose rise as a power has put it at the heart of some discussions at the advanced nations' summit in Ise-Shima, central Japan.
"Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe led discussion on the current situation in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Other G7 leaders said it is necessary for G7 to issue a clear signal," Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told reporters after a session on foreign policy affairs.
At a news conference late on Wednesday, Abe said Japan welcomed China's peaceful rise while repeating Tokyo's opposition to acts that try to change the status quo by force. He also urged respect for the rule of law. Both principles are expected to be mentioned in a statement after the summit.
Donald Trump on Thursday embraced President Barack Obama's critique of him that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's candidacy has "rattled" world leaders.
"When you rattle someone, that's good," Trump said at a news conference in North Dakota. "If they're rattled in a friendly way, that's a good thing ... not a bad thing."
Obama touched on the rancorous U.S. presidential race at a press conference Thursday from the G-7 summit in Japan, saying that presumptive Trump's statements had his fellow world leaders concerned.
"They're rattled by him and for good reason," Obama said. "Because a lot of the proposals that he's made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude or an interest in getting tweets and headlines instead of actually thinking through what is required to keep America safe."