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Japan white paper hypes China threat

2014-08-06 08:47 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Beijing now branded 'dangerous'

Japan's Defense Ministry in its annual white paper on Tuesday claimed that the nation is facing a worsening security environment as neighboring countries increase military activity in the region and emphasized Japan's need to bolster its own security role to counter threats.

The defense ministry's 506-page white paper made numerous references to the "intensifying severity of the security environment surrounding Japan" and said Japan's reinterpretation of its decades-held Peace Constitution to enable its forces to engage in overseas "collective self-defense" was a security shift of "historic significance."

While pointing out that threats are coming from North Korea, China and Russia, the document said Japan needs to beef up its defense capacity and coordinate its defense ability with the Japan-US security treaty so as to cope with an increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan.

In the 20 pages it dedicated to China, the white paper elaborates on "the various new developments in the past year." One move, for example, is China's establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea over the disputed Diaoyu Islands. That, along with historical issues, has caused diplomatic ties between the two countries to become all but severed.

The white paper said China lacks a clear goal in its military development and its security policies are not transparent. Also, it said China's air and sea activities in the East China Sea and the South China Sea have been "dramatically expanding" and "increasingly active," according to the Xinhua News Agency.

China's defense ministry on Tuesday expressed "resolute opposition" to Japan's exaggerations in the white paper.

"This is a deliberate exaggeration of the China threat as an excuse for Japan's military policy adjustment and arms expansion," the ministry said. "China is resolutely opposed to it."

Japan released its first white paper on defense in 1970 and has been compiling new versions annually since 1976.

Geng Xin, deputy director of the Tokyo-based JCC New Japan Research Institute, said this year's white paper had stepped up the anti-China rhetoric, and has described China as "dangerous" as well as a "threat."

'"Threat' is a strategic concept while 'danger' is tactical. By describing the details, for example, the close encounter of military jets of the two countries, Abe's cabinet found a reason to justify his serial moves to expand military power [such as lifting the ban on exercising collective self-defense] by intensifying public fear," Geng told the Global Times.

In July, the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet changed the interpretation of the nation's Constitution to allow Japanese forces to exercise the right to collective self-defense, in effect lifting the ban on Japan's overseas military operation. The decision was made by Abe and his Cabinet alone and did not involve a public referendum and support of both houses of parliament as constitutional change requires.

Despite falling approval ratings and protests around the country against Abe recasting Japan's military, the white paper downplayed Abe's plans to bolster the military, saying the moves were supposed to be a "deterrent."

The white paper was released shortly after Abe concluded his visit to Latin America, closely following Chinese President Xi Jinping's steps in late July to counter China's influence.

While Abe has also offered to ease bilateral tensions, he has offered no practical steps toward this goal. This included calling for talks with Xi during the APEC summit in Beijing in November during a parliamentary meeting in mid-July and a reported secret China visit by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in late July to discuss the possibilities of talks between the leaders.

Although the paper is a routine annual document, the subtle release time suggests that Abe is determined to push for "proactive pacifism," and that possible diplomatic improvement with China would not mean a change in course to become a revived political and military power, Geng said.

Compared with previous defense white papers, the new version also highlighted Japan's cooperation and exchanges on defense with other countries and a proposal that Japan should play a dominant role in regional and international cooperation in the defense area.

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