DOES JAPAN HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE CONCERED BY THE CHINESE NAVAL ACTIVITY, LACK OF TRnsparency in decision making process?
TOKYO — Japan raised concern Tuesday about China’s growing assertiveness in regional waters at a time when it’s becoming less clear who in Beijing is making decisions about the military.
In its annual white paper, Japan’s Defense Ministry spoke of the “changing” influence of the Chinese military on foreign policy, although the paper did not say specifically that the influence was growing. An increasingly “complex” relationship between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the ruling Communist Party, Tokyo said, presents a “risk management issue” for the region.
Although Japan has long voiced its unease about Beijing’s lack of military transparency on spending and troop positioning, this was the first time that the Defense Ministry here commented on the Chinese leadership’s actual decision-making, Japanese officials said. Japan specifically pointed to the Communist Party’s once-a-decade leadership change that is planned for later this year.
“There is a certain degree of wariness not only in Japan but in the whole of East Asia as to which direction China will be heading,” Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto said at a news conference, according to the Kyodo News agency.
Tensions between the Asian neighbors have spiked in recent weeks amid the latest flare-up over a disputed and uninhabited island chain, which Japan recently said it would consider purchasing from a private landowner. The Defense paper released Tuesday called on Japan to beef up its presence in the disputed area with added surveillance.
As evidence of China’s naval aggressiveness in the western Pacific waters — particularly the East China Sea — the paper pointed to a “record number” of Chinese training exercises near Japanese islands, with at least one exercise involving an unmanned aerial vehicle. Japan also cited several instances when Chinese helicopters flew close to Japanese destroyers. China, the paper said, also has upped its surveillance in the contested waters in recent years, and its annual defense budget has more than doubled since 2007.
“China has been expanding and intensifying its activities in waters close to Japan,” a translated version of the paper said. “These moves, together with the lack of transparency in its military and security affairs, are a matter of concern for the region and the international community, including Japan.”
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