News / Asia

    New Japan Defense Paper Angers Neighbors

    China and South Korea are criticizing the latest defense report released by Japan.

    As the annual security white paper was released Tuesday, Japan's defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, took note of what the government considers increasingly serious security threats from China.

    The Japanese defense minister says the Chinese “have attempted to change the status quo by force in ways incompatible with the existing order of international law and in ways that could be seen as provocative.”

    Japan and China have a long-standing dispute over small islands in the East China Sea controlled by Tokyo. Tension has escalated since the central Japanese government, last September, purchased the unoccupied islands (known as Senkaku in Japanese and Daoiyu in Chinese) from their private Japanese owner.

    Within hours of the issuance of the Japanese white paper, the foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing responded by accusing Tokyo of making unfounded accusations against China.

    Hua Chunying says China's maritime activities are carried out according to international law, the country is on the path of peaceful development and always stands for resolving territorial disputes through dialogue. But, she says, Japan has recently “played up the China threat, causing tensions and confrontation. And the international community cannot help but worry over where Japan is heading.”

    The white paper also suggests Japanese forces should have the capability to attack enemy bases as an effective deterrent against ballistic missile threats.

    That is in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, as indicated by defense minister Onodera.

    However, South Korea - also a potential target of the rival North's forces - is joining China in criticizing the Japanese document. That is because the annual paper - as it has since 2005 - asserts a territorial claim over a rocky outcrop, covering less than one-fifth of a square kilometer, held by South Korea (known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese).

    South Korean army Colonel Wi Yong-seop, speaking for the country's defense ministry, denies Japan has any geographical, historical or legal right to the rocks.

    Colonel Wi says if Japan refuses to withdraw its territorial claim there can be no expectations of defense exchanges or military cooperation between the two neighbors.

    This is the first such report published since Shinzo Abe returned as Japan's prime minister. He has expressed a desire to alter his country's pacifist Constitution, drafted by U.S. military occupation forces shortly after Japan's defeat in 1945.

    That makes some of Japan's neighbors uneasy, believing it could lead to a revival of Japanese militarism. There is a widespread perception in the region that Japan has never sufficiently expressed remorse for its brutal colonization of the Far East and much of the Asian continent before and during the Pacific War.

    Japan, for the first time in eleven years, this year increased its defense budget and is drafting a new overall defense plan. It is also increasing the scope of defense drills with its primary ally, the United States, which maintains more than a dozen military bases and tens of thousands of uniformed personnel in Japan.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    July 10, 2013 12:55 AM
    I can say most of Japanese politicians seem bad at dealing with diplomacy. They tend to pay more attention to unilateral interests than bilateral benefits weighing less on talks and reconcilliation.

    PM Abe is noticed as a atrong hawk and aiming at renewing the constitution from pushed one to original one which allows self-defence forces attack opponents. Recently Japanese pubric opinion has put him refrain from such a challenge to make measures easy to amend the constitution. The main reason why he has yet maintained relatively high pubric support is so far his economical policies are going well.

    I wish our neighbors would see us general Japanese as peace lovers. Now more than two thirds of population were born after WWII. We want to get along with neighbors.



    by: JT from: SF
    July 09, 2013 10:18 PM
    To Victor,
    What about China? China does not have any problems with her neighbors? China did not attack India? China did not attack Vietnam? China is just a big panda. Harmless. Right? The un elected leaders of China are wise and peaceful.

    by: ponsuke from: Japan
    July 09, 2013 9:56 AM
    This report offers a very superficial insight about the issue. Mr. Herman may be a left-wing or a pro China reporter.
    In Response

    by: Victor from: Singapore
    July 09, 2013 7:53 PM
    And how is this report 'superficial' except stating the facts that Japan's neighbors are genuinely angered. The fact that Japan has serious border issues with practically all her neighbors and the abhorrent war history views that her leaders hold are very telling indeed.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora