New Japan PM 'concerned' by China military rise



New Japan PM `concerned` by China military rise 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