Ja­pan coast guard seeks more money

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHAO YANRONG zhaoy­an­rong@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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