Japan’s prime minister issued a new warning about Beijing’s military build-up Sunday, two days after his government made a fresh protest over a Chinese ship’s entering waters near a chain of islands claimed by both countries.
In an address to graduating cadets of the Self Defense Forces, prime minister Yoshiko Noda cited China and North Korea as the main military challenges Japan faces in Asia.
“Circumstances in our surrounding regions are increasingly severe, complicated, and remain uncertain, as depicted in moves by North Korea including nuclear and missile issues, and China, which is reinforcing its military capabilities and continuing activities in surrounding waters,” Noda said in his speech at the National Defense Academy in the Tokyo suburb of Yokosuka.
Noda’s foreign ministry Friday issued a formal about a Chinese ship that approached a chain of islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan but claimed by China.
A ministry official said at a briefing Friday that the ship, the Haijian 50, that morning entered Japanese territorial water near the Senkaku islands – called the Daioyu islands by China – despite repeated warnings by a Japanese patrol boat. The spokesman said Japan’s vice foreign minister summoned China’s ambassador to the foreign ministry to protest the matter as “extremely serious” and “unacceptable.”
According to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, the State Oceanic Administration issued a statement on Friday saying the Haijian 50 and another surveillance ship arrived in the area early Friday morning to conduct an inspection tour.
Tensions between China and Japan over the island chain flared in September 2010, when a Chinese fishing boat in the area rammed a Japanese coast guard patrol boat, after which Japan detained the fishing boat’s Chinese captain for more than two weeks. Nationalist protests followed in both countries, and diplomatic ties grew strained. Japan ultimately released the captain under intense pressure from Beijing, but last Thursday belatedly indicted him in absentia.
Noda’s remarks Sunday came about two weeks after China announced plans to increase military spending this year by 11.2 percent. He has been warning about China’s military since before he became prime minister in September, and made remarks similar to Sunday’s in a speech last October at an Air Self Defense Force Base.
Noda, though, has also tried to deepen economic ties with China; in December he traveled to Beijing to announce a series of bilateral financial accords.-By Hiroyuki Kachi