Japan gave China another warning over the South China Sea

South china seaReutersChinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015.

Japan’s Minister of Defence warned on Saturday that land reclamation projects in theSouth China Searisked plunging the region intodisorderand urged nations, includingChina, to behave responsibly.

“If we leave any unlawful situation unattended, order will soon turn to disorder, and peace and stability will collapse,” Gen Nakatani said during a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

“I hope and expect all the countries, including China, to behave as a responsible power,” he said.

Tensions have risen in the South China Sea in recent months over China’s construction of artificial islands as it tries to assert its claim to the potentially energy-rich waters around the Spratly archipelego.

The Spratlys are claimed by half a dozen countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.

South china sea csis mapAsia Maritime Transparency InitiativeFive different countries control some land features in the Spratly Islands, while just one state controls the Kuril Islands, Liancourt Rocks, Senkaku Islands, and Paracel Islands.

Nakatani proposed what he dubbed the “Shangri-La Dialogue Initiative,” – three measures to bolster maritime and air safety in the region, including round-the-clock monitoring of airspace by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Establishing any system of round-the-clock safety patrols by 10-member ASEAN would require a level of integration not yet managed by the regional association. Countries such as the Philippines would also need aircraft, boats and other equipment to join any patrols. Japan, which lifted a ban on military exports a year ago, could potentially supply such gear.

South china seaREUTERS/Nguyen MinhA ship (top) of Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of Vietnam Marine Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam May 14, 2014

As it weakens the constitutional restraints on its military, Japan is looking at taking on a stronger security role in the South China Sea by extending maritime air patrols.

U.S. military commanders have said they would welcome such patrols as it would help counter balance China’s overwhelming influence in the region.

Neither Japan or the United States have any territorial claims in the South China Sea.

(Writing by Tim Kelly; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)

More from Reuters:

This article originally appeared at Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

NOW WATCH: Here’s what ‘Game of Thrones’ stars look like in real life

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.