July 31, 2012
Credit: Credit: Christina Mackenzie
Japan on Tuesday flagged the Chinese army’s growing role in shaping the country’s foreign policy as a security risk, saying a sense of caution exists across East Asia about Beijing’s apparent military expansion in the region.
In its annual defense white paper, Tokyo said some believe that relations between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Communist Party leadership were “getting complex” and said this was a matter of concern.
There is a possibility that the degree of military influence on foreign policy decisions has been changing, the paper said, without elaborating.
“This situation calls for attention as a risk management issue,” it added.
The report comes out at a time when China’s senior officers, intelligence advisers and maritime agency chiefs have been increasingly outspoken in calling for Beijing to take a tougher line in regional territorial disputes with rival claimants.
In referring to those disputes, which include a long-simmering row with Japan in the East China Sea, Tokyo’s views echoed the findings of a 2011 paper which welcomed China’s growing role on the world stage while noting its 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.”
Just like a year ago, Tokyo also noted China’s rapid military build-up, particularly that of its navy, pointing out that Beijing’s defense budget has risen 30-fold in the past 24 years.
Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto said the sense of caution is shared by many countries in the region. “It is not that caution has been rising. But it is true that there exists a certain sense of caution not only in Japan but across East Asia regarding which way China is headed,” Morimoto told reporters.