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.
A Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman repeated the country’s standard line that its military modernization is both transparent and not aimed at any other country.
But spokesman Geng Yansheng criticized “irresponsible statements” by certain unnamed Japanese officials over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, and said China would defend its rights.
“Protecting national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is the common responsibility of all concerned departments, including the military, and we will closely coordinate with other departments in conscientiously discharging our responsibilities,” he told reporters in Beijing.
SUPERPOWERS FLEX MUSCLES
As well as the Japan-China row over islets in the East China Sea, tensions have risen in the South China Sea as Beijing has become more assertive in its claim to the area in the face of opposition from neighboring countries.
The stakes have risen in the region as the U.S. military has shifted its attention and resources back to Asia in the past year.
In the white paper, Tokyo reaffirmed the importance of its alliance with the United States. “The presence of U.S. forces stationed in Japan functions as deterrent against regional contingencies, and it brings the sense of security to countries in the region,” it said.