ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Tokyo's defence hike may boost tensions
Publication Date : 10-01-2013
China objects to infringement of sovereignty by aircraft and vessels
Japan's new hawkish cabinet is toughening its military posture to confront China regarding the row over the Diaoyu Islands, a move observers said is testing China's bottom line and may prompt further escalation of tension.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera is planning to visit military bases in southwestern Japan's Okinawa prefecture as part of Tokyo's show of toughness. Onodera, during the trip, may encourage members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces involved in missions regarding territorial rows, Japan's Jiji Press News Agency reported yesterday.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Tokyo's frequent resorting to military approaches is not favourable for the resolution of the islands row.
However, Ruan said there is little chance of the situation spiraling out of control.
Japan plans to spend 180.5 billion yen (US$2.1 billion) on its military as part of a huge stimulus package over the next few months, AFP quoted a Japanese defence ministry source as saying yesterday.
"We will request 180.5 billion yen to be allocated to military spending from a stimulus package," a Japanese defence ministry spokesman said, adding that some of the cash will be used to purchase PAC-3 surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile systems and modernise four F-15 fighter jets.
Tokyo's recent frequent calls for an increased defence budget and redesigning maritime deployment are mainly targeted at China, and the moves will give rise to "nothing but unnecessary regional tension", said Gao Hong, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Japan has decided to increase defence spending to at least 4.77 trillion yen for the first time in 11 years in the 2013 fiscal year to deal with the continuing tensions with China.
"The defence plans will not have any impact on China's determination to safeguard its sovereignty," Gao added.
Japan's Ministry of Defence and the Japan Coast Guard are reportedly considering measures such as firing tracer bullets to warn off Chinese surveillance planes close to China's Diaoyu Islands.
In response, China yesterday emphasised its objection to any infringement of its sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands committed by Japanese aircraft or vessels.
China "remains vigilant against attempts to commit such acts", and patrols of Chinese planes and ships there are exercising jurisdiction, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera on Tuesday to increase surveillance of the waters around the islands.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida late on Tuesday that Japan should deal with its territorial row with China through dialogue and in a calm manner.
Washington has refused to take sides in the row. "The secretary reiterated our longstanding position on this," US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at her daily news briefing. Washington will continue to avoid the outbreak of a major conflict over the dispute, said Zhou Yongsheng, an expert on Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University. "As an ally of the United States, Abe is not willing to let the situation get out of control," Zhou said.
Liu Yedan in Beijing contributed to this story.