Disturbance in northeast Asia

(VOVworld) – The Japanese government has made pubic its 2015 defense white paper discussing covering its concerns over a worsening security situation outside Japan. The paper directly mentions the building of artificial islands in the East Sea and prospect to explore oil and gas in the East China Sea, calling it a threat to regional security. The paper immediately drew a backlash from China, darkening the mood in northeast Asia.

Disturbance in northeast Asia  - ảnh 1
A Chinese surveillance ship cruises past a Japanese fishing boat chartered by a political group near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in July 2013. | KYODO

Japan’s defense white paper is an annual publication, outlining all defense policies and activities of Japan, defense and security in certain countries in the region, and their impact on Japan’s security and defense policies.

Identifying threats from China

Although Japan has mentioned China’s military in previous defense white papers, the 2015 publication underlines China’s recent military growth. Japan devoted one-third of a chapter on global security trends covering eight countries and regions to its concerns about China’s increasing annual defense budget and its activities changing the status quo and affecting freedom of navigation in the East Sea.

The report raised concerns over China’s reclamation work and installation of oil rigs in the East Sea and questioned the transparency of its military activities and the purpose of its military budget increase.

Widening differences

In late May, China published its own defense white paper defending its activities as China’s legitimate rights in the East Sea and East China Sea. Neighboring countries have rejected the claims of China’s defense white paper. China’s strong reaction to Japan’s defense white paper calling China a threat to regional maritime security and safety was unsurprising.

Differences between Japan and China have grown and their sovereignty dispute over Senkaku/ Diaoyu island in the East China Sea has come close to erupting into military conflict.

With China’s recent actions in the East Sea affecting Japan’s national interests, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has insisted on a new security bill, which expands the area of operations of Japan’s self-defense force. Prime Minister Abe has also touted the importance of a stronger US-Japan alliance to deal with a more ambitious China. Japan’s Lower House has approved a new Security Bill.

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