Tokyo may con­sider pa­trols in South China Sea: mil­i­tary

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary may join U. S. forces on pa­trol in the South China Sea, the na­tion’s top uni­formed of­fi­cer said in an in­ter­view pub­lished Thurs­day, as Tokyo seeks a greater se­cu­rity role.

China’s re­cent moves to build ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands have cre­ated “very se­ri­ous po­ten­tial con­cerns” for Ja­pan, Kat­su­toshi Kawano, chief of the Joint Staff of the Ja­pan Self- De­fence Forces ( SDF), said in an in­ter­view with the Wall Street Jour­nal.

“We don’t have any plans to con­duct sur­veil­lance in the South China Sea cur­rently but depend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion, I think there is a chance we could con­sider do­ing so,” the ad­mi­ral was quoted as say­ing.

Kawano did not spec­ify what ac­tions by China might trig­ger the Ja­panese to con­sider start­ing pa­trols, the jour­nal re­ported, and any ac­tiv­ity by Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary be­yond its borders would likely raise con­cerns at home.

Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe has pushed for what he calls a nor­mal­iza­tion of the of­fi­cially paci­fist na­tion’s mil­i­tary pos­ture.

But be­cause he was un­able to muster public sup­port to amend the paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion im­posed by the United States af­ter World War II, Abe opted in­stead to re- in­ter­pret it.

He wants to loosen

re­stric­tions

that have bound the SDF to a nar­rowly de­fen­sive role for decades and pro­posed leg­is­la­tion that would al­low the mil­i­tary greater scope to act.

This week Ja­pan and the Philip­pines flew pa­trol planes near dis­puted South China Sea wa­ters.

Bei­jing is re­claim­ing land to build is­lands in the South China Sea, with fa­cil­i­ties it says will be used for both civil­ian and mil­i­tary pur­poses.

The sea is a busy ship­ping lane, where the United States says Bei­jing has built 2,000 acres ( 800 hectares) of ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands. China claims al­most all the South China Sea.

Parts of the sea are also claimed by the Philip­pines, Viet­nam, Malaysia and Brunei.

Kawano said he hoped to see more mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with South Korea, an area that has suf­fered be­cause of dis­agree­ments be­tween Tokyo and Seoul over wartime history, the jour­nal said.

The two neigh­bors have ex­changed warmer words in the past few days as they marked 50 years of ties.

“Once the re­la­tions are nor­mal­ized on po­lit­i­cal lev­els, I be­lieve move­ments will emerge on our ( mil­i­tary) lev­els,” Kawano was quoted as say­ing.

He also said Ja­pan would also like to con­duct more joint ex­er­cises with Aus­tralia and In­dia.

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