Japan wary of China military, urges closer US ties

Japan`s Defence Ministry cast a wary eye on China`s military expansion.

Tokyo: Japan`s Defence Ministry stressed the
importance of US military forces in Japan and cast a wary eye
on China`s military expansion in an annual report on Friday, as
diplomatic tensions with China rose following a collision near
disputed islands.

The annual defence policy report also said a group of
South Korean-controlled islands, called Dokdo in Korean and
Takeshima in Japanese, were an "integral" part of Japanese
territory - prompting protesters in South Korea`s capital to
try to burn a Japanese flag in a show of anger.

The report`s release comes amid a growing diplomatic
dispute between Japan and China. Beijing has warned Tokyo that
bilateral ties could be damaged over the arrest of a Chinese
fishing boat captain whose ship collided with two Japanese
patrol vessels Tuesday near disputed islands in the East China

China has increased its activity in Japanese waters to
defend its territory, protect its maritime interests and deter
Taiwanese independence, the defence report said.

Highlighting China`s increased military spending, it said
Beijing`s lack of openness in its defence policies and
military activities were "a matter of concern for the region
and the international community, including Japan, which should
require prudent analysis."

It said China has not disclosed specific information
about its weapons, procurement goals, details of major units
and its national defence budget.

China has released defence reports every two years since
1998 but has not yet achieved the level of transparency
expected for "a responsible major power in the international
society," it said.

China also is developing the technology needed for
possessing its own aircraft carrier, it said.

The report highlighted the importance of American forces
based in Japan under a security pact that marks its 50th
anniversary this year, saying they act as a deterrence that
contributes to Japan`s defence as well as regional security.

In particular, having US forces on the southern Japanese
island of Okinawa offers a strategic advantage because of its
geographic location, allowing them to respond more quickly to
emergencies in East Asia than if they were based in Hawaii,
Guam or the US mainland, it said.

However, many residents of the island of Okinawa, which
hosts three-quarters of all US military facilities in Japan,
want the bases moved off the island.