Japan is concerned that China’s potentially dangerous maritime activities around the Senkaku Islands could lead to an emergency and Beijing should act according to international rules rather than use force, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday in its white paper for 2013.
The report also expresses concern over North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, saying the country’s ballistic missiles are potentially capable of reaching the U.S. mainland — a sign that the missile program has entered a new stage.
The annual report, the first to be published under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, emphasizes an increasingly assertive China and defiant North Korea.
Abe is eager to revise the U.S.-drafted pacifist Constitution so Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense, while trying to solidify the strength of his Liberal Democratic Party in the Diet by sweeping the Upper House election in two weeks.
China’s activities in the sea and air include “dangerous actions that could cause a contingency situation” and are “extremely regrettable,” the report states.
Citing a January incident in which Japan said a Chinese navy frigate locked its weapons radar on a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer in the East China Sea, the white paper criticizes Beijing for denying use of the radar and accuses it of giving false explanations over the incident.
It was also reported that a Chinese frigate locked its weapons radar on an MSDF helicopter in the area the same month.
Tokyo and Beijing have been at odds over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands and tensions have heightened since the government last September effectively nationalized the territory, which Japan first took control of in 1895.
China has since continued to send surveillance vessels near the uninhibited islets, which it claims, putting Japanese authorities on alert. Chinese aircraft have also encroached on the area.
To address issues of conflicting interests, “China has attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion, which is incompatible with the existing order of international law,” the report says.
One of China’s objectives is to “weaken the effective control of another country over the islands” and strengthen its claim to territorial rights “through various surveillance activities and use of force,” it adds, calling on China to increase the transparency of its defense policy.
The paper also refers to the unresolved dispute over Russia-held islands that Japan has wanted back since the end of World War II and the row with Seoul over South Korea-held islets in the Sea of Japan. Seoul refers to the rocky outcroppings as Dokdo, and Japan calls them Takeshima and says in the report they are part of Japanese territory.
The report touches on other topics, including cybersecurity, an area Japan sees as necessary to improve to counter cyberattacks.
The Abe administration is planning to compile defense guidelines to define the nation’s longer-term defense policy by the end of the year, and the report provides insights into the country’s future defense posture.
“It is not necessarily possible to prevent invasions from outside by nonmilitary means such as diplomatic efforts,” the report says, noting defensive capabilities are “the nation’s ultimate guarantee of security” and of “Japan’s will and capacity to defend itself against foreign invasions.”
The white paper touches on the possibility of enabling Japan to attack an enemy base as an effective “deterrence” against ballistic missile threats.
The report says that in the security environment, the Japan-U.S. bilateral security alliance is essential and the deployment to Okinawa of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft will contribute to peace and stability in the region.
The tilt-rotor aircraft’s safety record sparked worries when the first 12 units arrived at the Futenma base in Okinawa last year, exacerbating local opposition against the airstrip. The base is expected to get 12 more Ospreys this summer.