Japan’s prime minister announced his country will vigorously defend itself against all Chinese threats following a series of confrontations over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain.Purchased by Japan, the islands’ ownership is hotly contested by China, which for several months has sent ships, reconnaissance planes, and fighter jets to the area to face off against Japanese forces. It has become a tense and somewhat dangerous game, with no end in sight.
In response, Japan has increased its defence budget for the first time in 11 years with a focus on Coast Guard expansion and increased surveillance abilities.
The boost in spending is important and symbolic, though not terribly dramatic, rising only .08 per cent over last year. It does, however, announce Tokyo’s intent to China and any other country laying claim to the disputed island chain.
Increased military power is one of many changes to be ushered in by new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who made these most recent remarks during a speech to Japan’s Self-Defence Force’s in the country’s south.
From The Straits Times:
“The security environment surrounding our country is increasingly becoming more severe as we face provocation to our territorial rights,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
“I will take the lead to stand up against the present danger and protect the people’s lives and asset, as well as our land, the seas and the air at all costs.”
About 700 troops listened at a base in Okinawa, the launching point for all military operations around the islands and home to a large contingent of U.S. Marines. The country holds Okinawa as part of the same geographical region as the islands.
The prime minister also said, “We will be steadfast in improving the capacity of the Self-defence Forces, including reinforcements in the southwest region (Okinawa).”
The AFP reports that Japan’s coastguard is already creating a special unit with 10 new and larger boats, more helicopter carriers, and 600 additional troops to patrol the area.
This speech occurred just one day after Abe announced an upcoming statement on Japan’s current attitude to World War II and a new plan to alter the pacifist constitution it’s carried as a result ever since.
Abe came to power promising to defend against China and vowing to replace a landmark 1995 war apology with a more “forward-looking” stance toward militarism.
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