Japan says China is taking “dangerous” actions at sea and in the air as it seeks to exert control in waters around Japan and elsewhere in the region. In a newly released annual report on defense, Japan listed China, Russia and North Korea as countries contributing to the region’s “increasingly severe” security environment.
In recent years, Japan’s annual defense report has become a routine venue for Tokyo to voice its security concerns, particularly about China.
In this year’s release, the section on the Chinese military got significantly larger in part because of what Tokyo says has been China’s increased intrusion into Japanese territory both in the air and at sea.
Japan warned that Beijing’s actions such as locking radar on to a Japanese destroyer and flying close to its fighters could lead to unintended consequences.
The report called on China to play a more responsible role in the region and was critical of a decision by Beijing late last year to declare an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ as it is called, over disputed islands Japan claims as its own.
Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera:
"The report is only seeking to state the facts about China’s actions and that Japan is not the only country concerned about the unilateral establishment of an ADIZ. The United States and the international community have voiced concerns as well," said Onodera.
In the report, Japan’s Defense Ministry raises concerns about what it says are Beijing’s efforts to not only exert even broader control in the region, but to change the status quo.
It also warns that China is likely to continue to expand activities in the air and sea, in waters surrounding Japan, the Pacific Ocean and East and South China Seas and called on Beijing to observe international norms.
Japan urged the Chinese military to be more transparent not only about its hardware but intentions in the region and noted a trend towards arms buildup and modernization and what it called “brisker military activity” by neighboring countries.
In response to the report, China's Defense Ministry accused Japan of deliberately embellishing the threat the Chinese military poses to adjust its military and security policies. Chinese analysts say the report exposes the ambitions of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his effort to turn the country into a regional military power, according to one Xinhua report.
Ties between Tokyo and Beijing have been seriously strained since Abe stepped into office, as the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggressions and a dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea continue to fray ties.
Abe has said he would like to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping at an upcoming summit for Asian leaders in Beijing. If they do, it would be the first time they met face to face since relations began deteriorating and Abe stepped into office in December of 2012.
China is not the only country that has raised concerns about Japan in the region and its territorial claims.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Min-seok:
"South Korea has summoned the Japanese military attaché in Seoul over the report and its mention that Dokdo is part of Japan’s territory. Seoul has given Japan a stern warning about the dispute over the island, which Tokyo calls Takeshima," said Min-seok.
In the report, Japan also warned that North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs were a grave destabilizing factor and noted that it was keeping an eye on Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
Japan says that Russia is also showing signs of expanding its military actions in recent months, conducting large-scale operations with its navy and air force in the region.