Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power after winning the general election last year, the Defense Ministry of Japan has released the first annual report stating that Japan is at an increased risk of facing security threats from China and the unpredictable North Korea. Mentioning the recent Chinese actions in the East China Sea islets which are claimed by both Japan and China, the report strongly criticized the statement from Beijing’s foreign ministry saying that Japan is exaggerating the Chinese actions as threats and is trying to create regional tension with China.
This recent territorial row has strained the already delicate Sino-Japanese relations and Abe’s recent remarks in casting Japan’s wartime history in not so apologetic tones have not been received well by its neighbor. Moreover, the annual report from Defense Ministry also pressed the necessity of beefing up the Japanese military in order to deal with various factors which might destabilize the security environment of Japan in the future.
Tadao Maeda, the commanding general of 1st Airborne Brigade, said in a recent interview that his unit could respond strongly to any attacks on the far-flung island if they are equipped with highly advanced intelligence gathering tools like drones. Since his unit now depends mainly on ground and maritime forces for gathering intelligence, Japan has decided to allocate funds this year for acquiring drones.
The report also said that China’s attempt to forcibly alter the status quo is incompatible with the existing international law and so, it is very important for China to accept and follow the international norms in order to maintain peace with Japan.
The territorial row between China and Japan erupted last September when Japan decided to nationalize the small East China Sea islets known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Since then, both Chinese and Japanese patrol ships have frequently shadowed each other in the regions near the island raising international concerns. As a result of this recent international dispute over the islands, Japan has increased its defense budget after 11years. Moreover, as the United States is the main security ally of Japan, the Japanese and the US military is conducting joint drills in order to prepare against any missile attacks. On the other hand, North Korea’s missile launch in December and the third nuclear test in February this year has also raised security concern for Japan. Pyongyang’s continuous refusal to acknowledge the international norms and the speculation regarding North Korea’s ability to develop nuclear missile with long range capacity has compelled Japan to upgrade their national security and defense mechanism.