Date
26 July 2017
Katsutoshi Kawano (R), chief of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces' Joint Staff, meets John Dolan, the commander of the US forces in Japan, in Tokyo earlier this month. Photo: Reuters
Katsutoshi Kawano (R), chief of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces' Joint Staff, meets John Dolan, the commander of the US forces in Japan, in Tokyo earlier this month. Photo: Reuters

Japan to consider joining US in South China Sea patrols

Japan’s military will consider joining US forces in regular patrols in the South China Sea, as concerns grow about Beijing’s island-building activities in disputed waters, a top Japanese uniformed officer said.

Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of the Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, told the Wall Street Journal that China’s recent moves to build artificial islands have created “very serious potential concerns” for Japan.

“Of course, the area is of the utmost importance for Japanese security,” Kawano was quoted as saying in an interview.

“We don’t have any plans to conduct surveillance in the South China Sea currently but depending on the situation, I think there is a chance we could consider doing so.”

Japan’s participation would be a welcome move for the US, which has sought to rely more on allies to provide peacekeeping in the region.

“I view the South China Sea as international water, not territorial water of any country, and so Japan is welcome to conduct operations on the high seas as Japan sees fit,” Adm. Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said at a briefing in Tokyo earlier this month.

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RC

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