Japan coast guard seeks more money
Japan’s coast guard sought a fiscal budget of 196.3 billion yen ($2 billion) for 2014 on Tuesday, to upgrade its patrol ships and increase personnel around the Diaoyu Islands, amid territorial tensions with China, Kyodo News Agency reported.
The new budget represents a 13 percent increase over the 2014 budget released in the first half of this year. It includes 12.8 billion yen to build and renovate patrol ships, according to the leading news network in Japan.
Newer, more advanced patrol ships will replace older ones, if China sends more vessels near the Diaoyu Islands, the report said.
The Japanese Coast Guard is preparing to build an “exclusive group” for the islands by 2015, it said.
The fiscal budget also includes 2.3 billion yen to build piers and accommodation for the “exclusive group”, 2.5 billion yen for fuel costs, and 800 million yen for an electronic system capable of pinpointing the location of Chinese vessels near the Diaoyu Islands.
Japan also plans to build 10 patrol vessels with full load capacities ranging from 500 to 1,000 metric tons, and two vessels capable of carrying helicopters, to enhance their patrols in all waters, including the Diaoyu Islands.
The Japanese Coast Guard plans to expand the scope of its staff recruitment by 528, making it the largest growth since 1952.
Li Jie, a naval expert in Beijing, said that Tokyo’s enhancing its patrol capability in the area will aggravate the tensions.
“China is enhancing regular patrols around the islands, and Japan has taken it is as an excuse for expanding its military capacity in the region,” Li said.
In addition to accelerating the pace of its coast guard buildup, Japan is also seeking to lift restrictions on its Marine Self-Defense Force, he said.
“The current Japanese government has never shown sincerity to eliminate the tensions over the islands,” Li said.