08/03/2005, 00.00
Japan – CHINA
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Expanding Chinese Navy worries Tokyo

This concern is a key element in Japan's annual defence white paper, but Beijing denies it threatens regional security.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan's 2005 defence white paper has raised eyebrows in Beijing. It echoes a US Defence Department report that warns against China's fast-modernising military and its potential long-term threat to the region.

The paper is particularly concerned about China's growing naval capabilities. To illustrate the point, it highlights Chinese violations of Japan's territorial waters when last November a Chinese nuclear came near Okinawa. Though apologising for the incident, China said that it was an error.

Japan has insisted that China be more transparent as to the purpose of its increasing naval exercises. It has also condemned Chinese gas exploration in the East China Sea.

Beijing's apparent attempt to build a deep-water navy that includes subs is particularly worrisome to Tokyo.

The white paper insists on the need for close monitoring to determine whether the build-up exceeds China's requirements for self-defence.

The report also stressed Japan's concern over China's passage in March of an anti-secession law authorising the use of 'non-peaceful means' should Taiwan proclaim its independence.

"There is no factual basis and it is extremely irresponsible of an official Japanese document to publicly play up the so-called 'Chinese threat'," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Tensions between the two Asian giants have risen in the last few months. One reason is Chinese opposition to Japan's demand to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The next meeting of the United Nations General assembly to discuss Security Council reform is scheduled for September.

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