News / Asia

    Japan Ups Military Spending Amid China Dispute

    Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera speaks at a news conference at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo December 17, 2013.
    Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera speaks at a news conference at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo December 17, 2013.
    Daniel Schearf
    Japan has announced a large defense build-up and national security strategy aimed at countering China's increasingly assertive claims on disputed territory. The plan calls for increased air and maritime capabilities and comes just weeks after Beijing alarmed the region by unilaterally expanding its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea.

    Japan's Cabinet on Tuesday released details of its first defense spending increase in years, along with a national security plan designed with Chinese aggression in mind.

    The five-year budget earmarks more than $230 billion for fighter jets, combat and amphibious vehicles, as well as surveillance drones and early warning aircraft.

    The national security strategy is Japan's first since it formed a U.S.-style National Security Council to streamline defense policy.

    (File) This photo from Oct. 13, 2011, shows Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force plane flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea.(File) This photo from Oct. 13, 2011, shows Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force plane flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea.
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    (File) This photo from Oct. 13, 2011, shows Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force plane flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea.
    (File) This photo from Oct. 13, 2011, shows Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force plane flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu islands in China, in the East China Sea.
    It centers on Japan's southwest where Beijing is increasingly aggressive in a dispute over ownership of the Japan-administered Senkaku islands, known as Diaoyu in China.

    The security policy underscores expanding the capabilities of Japan's Self Defense Forces in the face of Chinese intrusions. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has championed re-defining Japan's pacifist military and spoke to journalists after the announcement.

    He says the National Security Strategy shows Japan's diplomatic and security policy to the Japanese people, as well as the international community, with clarity and transparency. He says through international cooperation and their "proactive" peace policy, Japan will continue efforts to make even more of a contribution to international peace and stability.

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    Japan's Kyodo news agency reports under the security policy Tokyo will deepen defense relations with the United States and seek a more pro-active role for its Self-Defense Forces overseas.

    Japan's neighbors, who suffered under its colonial rule and World War II aggression, are wary of Mr. Abe's efforts to redefine the role of Japan's military and pacifist constitution.

    China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday criticized Japan's defense policy. Spokeswoman Hua Chunying called on Japan to face up to history and not just talk peace but take constructive actions.

    She says Japan's policy on military security affects the entire region's security environment. She says Asian countries, including China, as well as the international community are paying close attention to these negative trends and are maintaining high alert.

    Tensions over history, and a separate island dispute, have kept relations between U.S. allies Japan and South Korea frigid while Seoul and Beijing bonded somewhat over their shared mistreatment.

    But China was soundly criticized by Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. in late November for abruptly announcing the expansion of its Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea.

    The new ADIZ overlaps international waters as well as the islands disputed with Japan and a South Korean occupied reef, raising the risk of conflict.

    A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter, Aug. 10, 2012.A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter, Aug. 10, 2012.
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    A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter, Aug. 10, 2012.
    A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter, Aug. 10, 2012.
    South Korea's Foreign Ministry rebuked Japan for including the disputed Dokdo islands, known as Takeshima in Japan, in its security strategy.  But spokesman Cho Tai-young stopped short of criticizing Japan's military build-up.

    He says there must be no case affecting stability in the region. He says the government's position is that Japan's defense and security program must be done in a transparent way, respecting the ideology of its peaceful constitution and the principle of its exclusively defensive security policy.

    Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Japan's Temple University, says China's expanded air defense zone has pushed Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington closer together.

    “And, Japan's reaction to Seoul's announcement of its own expanded ADIZ was very low key even though it overlaps the Japanese ADIZ. So, I think that we're far from a thaw in Korean-Japanese relations but, compared to what's been going over the last year, I guess this is one of the more encouraging signs,” said Kingston.

    Japan's national security strategy also notes concerns about North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs and budgets for two new Aegis missile destroyers.

    The strategy will also set up new guidelines for joint development and production of arms exports. Tokyo in 2011 lifted a four-decade-old ban on weapons exports but has been cautious to grow its defense industry.

    VOA Seoul Bureau producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sun tzu from: md
    December 18, 2013 7:12 PM
    The first island chain is an idiotic idea dreamed up by those intent on containing China's access to the Pacific. The Soviet Union took over the entire Kurile island chain in 1945 because it did not wish to have its access to the Pacific blocked by Japan.

    The Senkaku islands are not part of the Okinawa chain but are the last link in a long line of islands extending all along the east coast of China. Just as the Russians, the Chinese do not want their access blocked by a former adversary, especially one who caused so much death and destruction to their country in WWII.

    The proponents of containment will naturally want to dismiss the history of Japanese aggression in China when dealing with the current situation, since Japan's amnesia of WWII is notorious. But to expect the world's second largest economy to acquiesce to a former aggressor to completely control its free access to the sea is preposterous if not disingenious.
    In Response

    by: jim dandy from: cucamomnga
    December 21, 2013 6:41 PM
    history is a separate issue why would anyone want to contain a nice democratically elected country like china? lol lie much?
    In Response

    by: justice_first from: Ca
    December 19, 2013 5:34 PM
    well said.

    by: alex from: UK
    December 18, 2013 6:00 PM
    Xi Jingping took a clear path.. He wants to use the force to get what he claims.. He should be careful, he's having issues with India, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan (thus the U.S.A.).. If his objective is isolating China and lead all the other countries to team up against it, he's almost accomplished his mission.. Because, for true that may be that Abe is a nationalist, it's also true that Japan's controlling those islands since the end of 18th century, that China recognized it when signing the end of the war back then, and that U.S.A. gave them back to Japan at the end of their control... China disagree? let's bring it to U.N.

    Sending vessels and disregardings the international rules is not how things are done in 2014

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    December 18, 2013 4:04 AM
    It is deffinately correct Abe's administration has been direting Japan toward a bellicose nation steadily. The protection of national secracy law has been passed unilaterally against the rallys of opposition. He is going to reform the pacifist constitution as admitting the right of collective defence forces as well as deployment of military forces to battle fields.

    Japanese public will is not necessarily the same as Abe's policy as a recent pubric-opinion poll shows his approval rate gets declining the lowest ever since his second inauguration. The only one factor which keeps his administration looking steady is a present good economic situation. I guess Abe's administration would break down before long because this good economy is superficial owing to weak yen and high stock prices so that it would shrink near future probably after sales tax rise scheduled in the next sring.

    by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
    December 17, 2013 10:15 PM
    Yes, Japanese have to pay the fare of confrontation for his lord the USA to confine China to the first link chain of archipelago .In West Pacific Ocean,with the growing military of China,the USA is wimpier and wimpier, no longer sufficient power to contend against China and Russia.Japanese are set to spend much more money for his lord.
    Anyone who want to stop the historical vehicle wheels would be crushed regardless of who it involved, how much he spend or how powerful he is.

    by: Anonymous
    December 17, 2013 12:37 PM
    Yes let's spending billions on our militaries to intimidate the other guy over a bunch of useless rocks in the ocean.
    In Response

    by: Gene S from: USA
    December 17, 2013 6:27 PM
    The Senkaku issue is not about some "rocks". It is a part of China's territorial expansion scheme where it is in dispute with Vietnam and the Philippines. The Senkakus are a pathway for the Chines Navy to get out into the Pacific. China has declared their intent to oust the US Navy from the western pacific and replace the US as the dominant strategic power in the region. (Their words). Japan and other Asian nations do not want the world's most powerful dictatorship taking over Asia. The west helped China attain it's economic status thinking it would bring them closer to democracy. The plan failed. They are more totalitarian than ever, nationalism is rampant and eager to challenge the United States.

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