Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe proposed Thursday using retired Self-Defense Forces vessels to defend the uninhabited Senkaku Islands.
Retired vessels and SDF reserves should be transferred to the Japan Coast Guard to protect the islets, he said in a Tokyo speech.
“It will take as long as two years to build new patrol vessels for the coast guard even if budgets are allocated now,” he said.
“China is obviously trying to wrest control of the islands,” Abe said.
China sends ships to waters around the islands every day and sends a message to the world that the area is Chinese sea, Abe said, adding China may say that it has established its effective control of the islets and ask Japan to jointly manage them.
In such a case, it will be a question of whether Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty that requires the United States to defend Japan can be applied to the territory, he noted.
Abe said Japan first needs to prevent Chinese ships’ intrusion into its territorial waters by physical force.