Japan faces `more severe` security situation: PM

Japan is facing growing security challenges due to China`s flexing of its military might, PM said.

Tokyo: Japan is facing growing security
challenges due to China`s flexing of its military might and
North Korea`s missile development programme and nuclear
status, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Sunday.

Kan`s comments come amid heightened tensions with China
over disputed islands and growing military activities by the
rapidly developing Asian giant and follow a report that North
Korea may be preparing for a third nuclear test.

Ties between Tokyo and Beijing were badly strained after
Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain near the island chain
in the East China Sea last month, sparking a barrage of
protests from Beijing.

"The security situation surrounding Japan is becoming
more severe, seen in concerns over North Korea`s missile and
nuclear arms development and in China`s increasing naval
activity along with its military modernisation," Kan said at
an inspection parade of troops in suburban Tokyo.

"The Self-Defence Forces need to be poised to deal with
various situations effectively," Kan said, using the official
name of the Japanese troops.

Kan also stressed the importance of strengthening the
decades-long alliance with the United States, saying: "I`d
like to deepen the alliance into an appropriate form for the
21st century."

The prime minister attended the parade for the first time
as the premier of the government led by the centre-left
Democratic Party of Japan, which ousted a conservative
government last year.

In the latest development in the bitter spat between
China and Japan, Tokyo today urged Beijing to normalise rare
earth exports that are crucial for high-tech Japan after
shipments were blocked last month.