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Japan Calls for Chinese Military Transparency

The Japanese government's annual defense report is calling for China to disclose more data about its military expansion and also concludes North Korea has ballistic missiles that could hit Japan.

Japan released its annual defense report, which will guide policy for the next year. As expected, two communist states - China and North Korea - feature prominently.

The document calls for China to be more transparent about its defense policies and military might.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tomhiko Taniguchi says openness from Beijing would help dispel concerns about China's military modernization. China has rapidly increased military spending in the past decade.

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant and you have to be very much transparent," he said. "The Defense Agency and the Foreign Ministry, as well, are requesting China reveal everything that is going on in terms of defense buildup and the amount of defense budget and what sort of equipment and weaponry the Chinese military is using."

The government document expresses "grave concern" that North Korea's missiles, coupled with its nuclear-weapons programs, "have become destabilizing factors" for the world.

Last month, North Korea tested several missiles, including a long-range ballistic missile that failed shortly after launch. The United States, Japan and other countries had warned Pyongyang that any launches would raise tensions in the region.

Pyongyang also has refused since last year to return to negotiations over its pledge to dismantle its nuclear-weapons programs.

Despite comments by government officials that Japan should consider acquiring the capability to pre-emptively strike North Korean missile sites, Foreign Ministry spokesman Taniguchi says the paper proposes no changes in Japan's defense policy.

"I frankly do not think so. Everything that the defense white paper has written about has been going on for some time," added Taniguchi. " (The) white paper is a document that combines and pulls together things that are already happening."

The document, endorsed by Japan's Cabinet, also pledges to implement in a "timely and thorough" manner the realignment of U.S. military forces in Japan. Thousands of Marines and their families on Okinawa are to be relocated to the U.S. island of Guam.

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