Amid the brewing tensions in the West Philippine and East China Sea, the Japanese government published a report describing China’s expansionist activities as a “global security risk” while again calling for a bigger role for its armed forces, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
In the 429-page defense paper, Beijing received consideration as Tokyo’s No. 1 security threat due to its aggressive movements in the region.
“China, particularly over conflicting maritime issues, continues to act in an assertive manner, including coercive attempts to change the status quo, and is poised to fulfill its unilateral demands high-handedly without compromise,” the paper said; adding that “Japan is strongly concerned about China’s actions, which we need to keep watching closely.”
In the paper, Japan also gave reference to China’s installation of 16 oil rigs near the two states’ disputed maritime border in the East China Sea as proof of the Asian giant’s expansionist ambitions.
“It is extremely deplorable that China is unilaterally developing resources while the border has not been settled,” commented Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
The report comes at a time when Japan’s ruling party led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to pass laws which would give the country’s Self-Defense Force (SDF) greater latitude in responding to conflicts.
Formed at the end of World War 2, the SDF are technically forbidden from fighting except in defense of the country and sending its forces abroad.
With the new legislation being pushed, the SDF would be allowed to fight alongside its allies even when Japan itself isn’t under attack.
China has been at odds with its neighbors over territorial claims in the region; with Japan and Taiwan over the Senkaku Islands; and with the Philippines and several other Southeast Asian countries over the resource-rich West Philippine Sea which is also one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.