BEIJING/SEOUL – China and South Korea on Tuesday expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with Japan’s latest defense white paper, issued earlier in the day, which highlighted concern over the Chinese military’s muscle-flexing in the East and South China seas.
In a statement, China’s Defense Ministry said the Japanese report was “full of malice against the Chinese military,” which is being built up to meet China’s “legitimate” defense needs, and was aimed at “deceiving the international community” as to China’s intentions.
In Seoul, the South Korean government summoned Japan’s envoy and lodged a protest against the white paper, which stated that Takeshima is Japanese territory. South Korea also claims Takeshima, which it calls Dokdo.
On the South China Sea issue, the Chinese defense ministry accused the Japanese side of attempting to “sow dissension” and “muddy the waters” with the false claim that Chinese activities in the South China Sea jeopardize freedom of navigation there.
It said “meddling” in the South China Sea issue by Japan, as well as by other countries that are not direct parties to the disputes there, undermines peace and stability in the region.
Responding to Japan’s criticism that China’s activities in the sea are a high-handed, unilateral action to alter the status quo, the ministry pointed to Japan’s purchase of some of the Chinese-claimed, Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from a private owner in 2012, sparking a major bilateral row.
Japan, it said, also strengthened its southwestern military deployment and passed new security legislation to allow its troops to fight abroad even if Japan itself is not under attack.
“We urge Japan to stop its wrong words and deeds, in order to avoid ‘shooting itself in the foot,'” the ministry said.
On the Senkakus, known in China as Diaoyu, the statement reiterated Beijing’s position that they belong to China, which “has sufficient historical and legal basis” to claim them.
It urged the international community to remain wary and vigilant as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government moves to adjust Japan security policy, expand its armaments and even revise its pacifist Constitution.
“We urge the Japanese side to reflect on history, respect facts and stop groundless accusations against China,” it said, while also calling on Tokyo “to take concrete actions to create conditions for the improvement and development of Sino-Japanese relations.”
Earlier Tuesday, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said the Japanese defense white paper “aims to rebuild Japan, which brutalized its Asian neighbors during World War II, as a military power.”
“The white paper plays up (the) ‘China threat’ and stirs up tensions in the region with a view to justifying Japan’s new security bills and finally moving closer to the Abe administration’s long-held goal of revising the country’s pacifist Constitution” to scrap war-renouncing Article 9 and turn Japan’s Self-Defense Forces into a conventional army.
“For a country which is reluctant to face up to its ignominious wartime history squarely, its attempts to beef up military power will pose a serious threat to world peace,” it concluded.
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