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Japan to enhance defence capabilities to counter China's maritime designs in Pacific

June 26, 2012 - Tokyo

Japan is preparing to enhance its air and sea defence capabilities to protect islands and waters in the nation's southwest and part of the broad swath of the western Pacific, where China has increased its maritime activities in recent years, the country's new defence minister said.

"Japan has 6,800 islands, and territory that stretches over 3,300 kilometers [2,000 miles]; it's necessary to have troops at its southwestern end to beef up our warning and surveillance capability," Wall Street Journal quoted Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, as saying.

During his first interview after taking office this month Morimoto said: "We must defend without fail our sovereign rights and our land that includes the Senkaku islands, referring to a chain of islands also claimed by China, which are called Diaoyu.

Morimoto described the 2010 Senkaku-Diaoyu spat as "China's unilateral, coercive and n*ked intention to expand its maritime rule."

"We must strengthen our overall defense capability in the southwest," he added.

The minister also said some friction with China is inevitable "as our national interest are different".

He, however, added: "I believe it's extremely important Japan and China improve our mutual cooperation and understanding, and play our respective roles to stabilize the maritime environment in this region."orimoto said that one of his priorities as defense minister is to push for policies that will strengthen the bilateral relations with the U.S.

"The Japan-U.S. alliance has evolved over time, but what hasn't changed fundamentally, and what will not change, is the fact that the alliance plays an extremely important role in promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

Morimoto said. "The most important task for people who think about Japan's national security and build its policy is making the alliance even more reliable."


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