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NTDTV | May 9
Is China upping the stakes in its territorial dispute with Japan? An editorial in the state-run People's Daily has infuriated Japan by questioning ...
Over in Japan, the government has released its annual defense white paper. Normally this is just a guide to help politicians making policy decisions, but this year's paper has gotten Japan's neighbors all worked up.
The paper expresses concern over the growing influence of China's military. It says that the degree of military influence on foreign policy decisions has been changing, implying that there's less civilian control. It also highlights China's increasing military budget, and the Chinese navy's push into the Pacific. The paper also addresses the disputes over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. It says the "China has responded to conflicting issues involving Japan and other neighboring countries in a way that has been criticized as assertive." The white paper further asserts that islands in the Sea of Japan, which are claimed by both Japan and South Korea, are the inherent territory of Japan.
Not surprisingly, both Beijing and Seoul reacted angrily to the report. First, let's get the response from China's official broadcaster, CCTV.
Continued increases in its defense budget, wide and rapid modernization of its military powers, and expanding activities around our waters. These are remarks made about China by Satoshi Morimoto, Japan’s Defense Minister, in the country’s latest annual Defense White Paper. The report comes out at a time when tensions between China and Japan have escalated over the Diaoyu Islands territorial dispute.
Tokyo echoed its 2011 paper, which welcomed China’s growing role on the world stage, while noting is increasingly aggressive moves. "China has responded to conflicting issues involving Japan and other neighboring countries in a way that has been criticized as assertive, raising worries about its future direction."
Tokyo also noted China’s rapid military build-up, particularly that of its navy, pointing out its defense budget has risen 30-fold in the past 24 years.
In the white paper, Tokyo reaffirmed its alliance with the US. "The presence of US forces stationed in Japan functions as a deterrent against regional contingencies, and it brings a sense of security to countries in the region."
Japan’s Foreign Minister announced the recent deployment of US aircraft to Japan is aimed at containing threats from China, especially on the Diaoyu Island issue.
The release of Japan’s latest Defense White Paper coincided with China’s annual Ministry of National Defense news conference. The spokesman was not asked specifically about the paper, but rebuked Japanese officials.
Geng Yansheng, China's Defense Ministry Spokesman:
"Some official personnel in Japan have recently issued a series of irresponsible statements concerning the Diaoyu Islands. These are erroneous statements that infringe on China’s sovereignty and have naturally been opposed by the Chinese people."
Japan releases its Defense White Paper annually to state its view on its security environment and its defense policy. It first described China’s national budget and military might in 2006. China has downplayed Japan’s claim of a "China threat," calling it irresponsible and groundless.
Meanwhile, South Korea rejected the white paper’s claim that a group of islets, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea, is Japanese territory. Here’s MBC with the South Korean reaction.
The annual white paper was released by Japan’s Defense Agency. The introduction to the document states that, "The territorial disputes over Dokdo, Japan's own territory, remain unresolved." This claim has been reiterated for eight years, ever since Japan's Liberal Democratic Party wrote it in 2005.
It's noteworthy that Japan’s Ministry of Defense said that its sovereignty claim over Dokdo is a top priority in a summary it published for the foreign press. Japan is increasingly vocal to the international community about its claim in spite of its recent clash with South Korea.
The South Korean government also objected to Japan's claim, giving it more weight than usual. Foreign ministry officials issued a stronger statement than last year, saying Korea will never accept Japan’s claim.
Jo Tae-young, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade:
We strongly protest Japan’s sovereignty claim over Dokdo and urge the Japanese government to take immediate corrective action.
South Korea summoned the deputy chief of the Japanese embassy in Seoul and gave him a letter. South Korea’s Ministry of Defense also stated there will be no new development in defense ties between Korea and Japan unless Japan gives up its sovereignty over Dokdo.
After Japanese Foreign Minister Gemba announced that Japan would claim sovereignty over Dokdo in January, Japan continues to bring up the issue of Dokdo. Japan has approved school textbooks that emphasize Japan’s sovereignty over Dokdo and held a meeting regarding it with a number of political figures.
The United States is becoming increasingly worried about the growing territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea. The Obama Administration's "pivot" towards Asia depends on close defense ties between Tokyo and Seoul. But the competing claims over the disputed islands could threaten future cooperation.