Japan ramped up its criticism of China’s land reclamation and offshore platforms in disputed seas Tuesday in a hastily revised annual defence report.
The 500-page white paper, approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, includes for the first time satellite images of Chinese artificial islands in the South China Sea, Reuters reported.
Japan has no claim in the South China Sea but is in dispute with China over small islands in the East China Sea.
After hawkish members of Abe’s party complained the report was too soft on China, the Defense Ministry appended a demand for China to halt construction of platforms in the East China Sea that it began two years ago.
“We have confirmed that China has started construction of new ocean [exploration] platforms, and we repeat our opposition to unilateral development by China and call for a halt,” the ministry said.
The paper outlining Japan’s defense posture and perceived threats comes after the lower house of parliament passed legislation last week that for the first time since World War II would allow Japanese soldiers to fight overseas.
China said the legislation called into question Japan’s post-war commitment to “the path of peaceful development”.
Japan’s complaints about platforms that it fears could be used as radar outposts in the East China Sea come as the country plays a more prominent role in the South China Sea disputes.
Tokyo has angered Beijing with criticism of artificial islands that China is building in the Spratlys Islands.
Japan fears Chinese military bases in the South China Sea could increase its influence over a region through which US$5 trillion in trade passes every year, much of it to and from Japan.
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