News / Asia

Japan, China Territorial Tensions Rising Over Unmanned Drones

FILE - An unidentified plane flies near disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the air over the East China Sea, in this handout photo taken by Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
FILE - An unidentified plane flies near disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the air over the East China Sea, in this handout photo taken by Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
Daniel Schearf
The long-running territorial dispute between China and Japan over a remote group of islands is in the spotlight this week as the two countries conduct massive military exercises. Analysts warn the drills and China’s increased use of drone aircraft in the region raise the risk of an unintended confrontation.
 
Japan on Friday begins a week of live-fire military drills involving 34,000 troops, navy destroyers, jet fighters and amphibious assault vehicles.
 
The exercises include operations to defend remote islands from attack and come as Tokyo and Beijing are testing each other in a war of words over the disputed Senkaku islands, known as Diaoyu in China.
 
Japanese media report Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month approved a plan to shoot down any foreign drones that refuse to leave Japan's airspace.
 
Kyodo news agency reports Abe decided on the tough policy in response to China's flying a drone in September near the islands.
 
Although not yet officially confirmed, Japan has for months been considering the measure to protect the waters surrounding the Japan-administered islands.
 
China's military spokesman said an attack on its aircraft would be considered an act of war and that it would strike back.  
 
Rory Medcalf, the director of the international security program at Sydney's Lowey Institute, said China's introduction of drones into the dispute, and pledge to defend them, has made the situation more unpredictable. 

“So, the Chinese have kind of put Japan into an awkward position.  If it lets them pass, or if it lets them fly over disputed, contested airspace then China is further establishing its presence there," he said. "But, if Japan strikes back, then it's really escalating tensions potentially towards conflict.”
 
Beijing has been aggressively developing its unmanned aerial vehicles and last year unveiled armed attack drones that appeared to be modeled on U.S. versions.
 
China's Foreign Ministry played down its military's talk of war by implying Japan was hyping the situation in order to build up its defenses.
 
Japan's neighbors, who suffered from its World War II aggression, are wary of plans by Tokyo to increase the military operations allowed under its pacifist constitution.
 
But China is the one asserting its power in the region and testing Japan's defense of the islands. Beijing sends weekly, and sometimes daily, patrols of ships and jet fighters near the islands, forcing Japan to respond by scrambling its own jets.
 
Abe this week said Japan would not tolerate any use of force by China to change the status quo.  Beijing responded by calling Japanese politicians “arrogant” and “self-deceiving” over the dispute.
 
“The real problem isn't really so much the war of words, it is that the jet scrambling and fleets navigating in the disputed area, there could be a miscalculation with serious consequences,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Japan's Temple University.
 
China’s official Xinhua news agency this month revealed Chinese nuclear submarines are being sent on regular sea patrols. Chinese destroyers earlier this year for the first time sailed the strait between Russia and Japan, raising eyebrows in Tokyo.
 
Japan's exercises begin as China finishes up its own military exercises. China's navy earlier this month began weeks of drills in the West Pacific with, for the first time, all three of its navy fleets.  Xinhua reports the exercises are aimed at improving combat abilities on the high seas.
 
Medcalf said the coinciding exercises could also help the two sides release some steam and prevent more threatening posturing.  But he said Japan-China hostility is not likely to cool down any time soon.
 
“Tension is becoming the new normal in relations between China and Japan.  And, the best we can probably hope for is that they find informal ways of managing this, informal ways of their navies and their maritime forces really signaling to one another or keeping out of each others way," Medcalf said. "It's possible that over the next, I guess, ten to twenty years they will work this out and perhaps reach some new political understandings.  The danger zone will be, I think, in the next few years before they reach these new levels of understanding.”
 
Medcalf said one positive step would be if the countries establish operational hotlines between their forces to prevent unintentional confrontations from turning into a bigger conflict.

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Comments
     
by: Truth from: usa
November 04, 2013 2:56 AM
China is chasing its chineese dream of expansion through force. It has disputes with all of its neighbors even Russia is concerned. China has ambitions like Germany and Japan before them. They want to take Taiwan by force and own the east and south China sea. A war between the China and Japan could and would likely kick off world war 3. Hopefully Iran and north Korea Syria will be taken care of by then.


by: alano from: philippines
November 03, 2013 12:44 AM
analize the situation ...know the truth first. china are bullying the small nation coz they have no military capabilities to counter them. In our country thier jets are3 soaring in our skies and they fishing in our terrtory escorted by their warship and now they are over reacting to japan.


by: Frank from: O.C, USA
November 02, 2013 11:44 PM
Poor Chinese people! They have not been taught even ethics and manners how to behave in the world society. They have been taught the forged Japanese history so that they hate Japanese people. Come to and see Japan with your eyes and then you will sure find that Japanese people are much more decent and courteous than Chinese people, at least, unlike Chinese, Japanese know ethics ans manners that even Confucius could not teach Chinese (or Chinese have no sense for that).


by: Stpoosh from: 90210
November 02, 2013 6:00 PM
JAPAN ROCKS!


by: Joe from: California, USA
November 02, 2013 4:51 PM
Japan under Abe is becoming an evil nation; Abe is very keen on reviving Japan's past glorious imperialism. He denied the comfort women issues, and beautifying the war crimes in WWII.

The world should keep a watchful eye on this evil nation.
Also, the just world should let Ryukyu Islands become independent.

In Response

by: fifiwoody from: van
November 02, 2013 6:57 PM
I agree with you all the way, Japan sees itself as a victim of second world war but in fact it's the aggressior worst then Germany in EQUIpment.


by: David from: San Diego
November 02, 2013 10:14 AM
Bills comments earlier are quite correct:

"Abe accomplishment after as the Japanees leader:
1. Using China as an excuse to expand military forces even under US protection.
2. Changing constirution to bring back evil imperial Japan army.
3. Deny comfort women.
4. Deny Tokyo Trial
5. Bad relationship with neigbbours: China, Korea, Russia, Taiwan.
6. Radaition problem still unsolved and getting worse.
7. Changing school text history book.
8. Unable to negotiate with China on the islands dispute.
9. Plan to bring back evil emperor to be head of State.
10. Worship the ghostly Shrine.
10. Admited himself as an extreme right wing in UN without shame.

All above beccasue he comes from the WWII war criminal family Nobusuke Kishi. Shame to Abe."

Time for us Americans to get the Japanese in line. They are a cause of disturbance to peace in the region and wish to bring us into a war we do not want.


by: oado from: asia
November 01, 2013 2:21 PM
this is the game of usa . china jpn will fight and us will take advantage


by: remie from: canada
November 01, 2013 8:41 AM
@Bill , You are delusional or u must be chinese, Japan bringing back evil emperor and change history? Is that what your parents taught u? LOOK around and think for yourself

In Response

by: David from: San Diego
November 02, 2013 10:23 AM
Remie:

If you looked around for yourself you would see that Bill has good points and is very astute in his deductions.

Bottom line is Abe has taken Japan to the far right. As can be expected since his grandfather was a WWII war criminal that we Americans never convicted for his crimes.

Japan is run by a small group of men from powerful families. As such their recent run ups from praising Nazi Germany, praising War Criminals and antagonizing China by insisting their is no dispute on these Islands that were supposed to be returned to China at the end of WWII just endangers the world with the possibility of Japanese aggression and threat of war.


by: Wu from: SEA
November 01, 2013 12:38 AM
China is testing the defense Japan capability.
Beijing reheats Japan WWII crime to bring up nationalism.
If Japan fail then Beijing will possess all East and South china sea even though it is an act of harassing South East Asia countries. China never be a nice neighbor to be with.
History has shown that Chinese kings like to invade other countries to expand china border until the rise of the Western power.
CHINA IS THE PROBLEM IN THE REGION.


by: Bill from: New York
October 31, 2013 4:33 PM
Abe accomplishment after as the Japanees leader:
1. Using China as an excuse to expand military forces even under US protection.
2. Changing constirution to bring back evil imperial Japan army.
3. Deny comfort women.
4. Deny Tokyo Trial
5. Bad relationship with neigbbours: China, Korea, Russia, Taiwan.
6. Radaition problem still unsolved and getting worse.
7. Changing school text history book.
8. Unable to negotiate with China on the islands dispute.
9. Plan to bring back evil emperor to be head of State.
10. Worship the ghostly Shrine.
10. Admited himself as an extreme right wing in UN without shame.

All above beccasue he comes from the WWII war criminal family Nobusuke Kishi. Shame to Abe.

In Response

by: Nomoremaos from: Dc
November 01, 2013 3:21 PM
Bill is a good communist soldier for china. Just do one thing: visit Japan and then visit China. Once you do that and you will never let the Chinese get any where near Japanese islands.

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 01, 2013 5:57 AM
Abe will bring Japan to disaster , extremist will not end well ! USA same now acts same like WW2, bring this stone to drop on their own feet!

In Response

by: richard yu from: melbourne australia
November 01, 2013 1:04 AM
Good on you, Bill from New York. Shame to Abe!

In Response

by: Peter from: Melbourne
October 31, 2013 11:19 PM
Achievement fo Chinese totalitarian regime even worse then Russians:
- Bully your neighbours and occupy their land on fabricated lies based on documents dating back to 3000BC.
- Deny human rights to it's own people and treat them like slaves.
- PLA members and Chinese pollies are the most corrupt in the world.
- Ethnic cleansing in Tibet.
- Do not compare yourself with democratic government of Japan and it's creative and hard working people and not slaves like Chinese.

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