New Japan PM `concerned` by China military rise

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 17:36

Tokyo: Japan`s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko
Noda said today he was concerned about China`s military
build-up, urging his giant neighbour to act as a "responsible
member of the international community".

Japan wants to deepen relations with China in the run-up
to the 40th anniversary next year of the restoration of
diplomatic ties, Noda told Parliament.

"On the other hand, I am concerned about their
reinforcement of national defence power, which lacks
transparency, and their acceleration of maritime activities,"
Noda said.

"I expect China to play an appropriate role as a
responsible member of the international community," he said,
adding he wanted to visit the country at a convenient time for
both sides.

Noda, known to have slightly hawkish views on China, has
irked Beijing in the past with his assertion that prominent
Japanese war criminals from World War II, should no longer be
considered "criminals".

However, since coming to power he has pledged that
neither he nor any of his cabinet will visit the Yasukuni
shrine in Tokyo that honours the country`s war dead, a move
welcomed by Japan`s Asian neighbours.

In an annual defence paper published last month Japan
voiced concern over China`s widening naval reach in nearby
waters and the Pacific and over what it called the
"opaqueness" of Beijing`s rapidly-growing military budget.

China reacted angrily, with its foreign ministry branding
the paper "irresponsible" and insisting Beijing`s drive to
modernise its forces was entirely defensive.

Earlier this year, China announced military spending
would rise 12.7 per cent to 601.1 billion yuan (USD 91.7
billion) in 2011 after funding slowed last year.

Beijing has repeatedly sought to alleviate fears over its
pursuit of sophisticated missiles, satellites, cyber-weapons
and fighter jets, stressing that its policy is "defensive in
nature".

However, China has become increasingly assertive in its
claims over the East China Sea and South China Sea, most of
which it views as its maritime territory, but where several
other Asian nations have competing claims.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 17:36

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