BEIJING -- China has warned its nationals about travel to Japan after a bus carrying a Chinese tour group was attacked there.
The National Tourism Administration issued the warning late Thursday, saying, "Chinese tourists and tour groups currently in Japan or planning to go to Japan in the near future should watch their travel safety."
The warning followed an incident in southwestern Fukuoka Wednesday when the bus of a Chinese tour group was attacked by a right-wing group.
The government agency said in a website posting that tourists should contact the Chinese Embassy in Japan or the nearest Chinese consulate in case of emergency.
China-Japan relations have been strained since a collision between two Japanese Coast Guard patrol ships and a Chinese trawler on September 7 in waters off the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
The Japanese Coast Guard seized the trawler and detained the fishermen and the captain on September 8.
China, which claims sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, has maintained the seizure and the detention were illegal.
The 14 Chinese crew were released soon after, but Japanese authorities held the captain, 41-year-old Zhan Qixiong, in detention for 17 days despite strong protests from the Chinese government and public.
China has postponed scheduled talks with Japan on joint energy exploration in the East China Sea and said Japan's refusal to release the trawler captain had "severely damaged" relations between the two countries.
In addition, China has canceled ministerial and provincial-level contacts with Japan, suspended talks on aviation issues, and postponed a meeting on coal.
The sea row between the two Asian neighbors has also overshadowed Chinese tourism to Japan. Due to the tensions, a Beijing-based health food company canceled a group tour to Japan this month for 10,000 of its employees.
Chinese mainlanders make up the biggest number of tourists traveling to Japan, after those from the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.
On July 1, the Japanese government relaxed visa rules for Chinese nationals to encourage more of them to visit and help boost the nation's flagging retail sector.
In the first five months, the number of Chinese mainland visitors to Japan rose 36 percent year-on-year to about 600,000, according the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Chinese tourists spend 230,000 yen (US$2,613) on average per trip, which is a massive injection of capital into the retail sector, local economists have noted.