Tokyo: With China stepping up its presence in Japan`s neighbouring waters, a government panel on Tuesday proposed that Tokyo should beef up the capabilities of its defence forces.
The panel on ocean policy proposed that the government promote its marine resource development business and upgrade the capabilities of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard.
In receiving the proposals, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government will reflect them in its five-year maritime policy program due to take effect in fiscal 2013 and that it is willing "to take a strategic approach in tackling the development and use of marine resources".
The proposal also called on the government to launch a project to extract methane hydrate, a solid substance consisting of methane and water molecules that is a potential new energy source as an alternative to natural gas, by fiscal 2017 so that commercial energy production can begin by the mid-2020s.
The panel also suggested the government do more to promote renewable energy resources through projects to harness offshore wind and tidal power.
China and Japan are embroiled in a dispute over islands they both claim.
The row over the East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, has strained bilateral relations and had sparked anti-Japan protests across China.