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WW3 warning: Japan planning rapid increase in armed forces to combat China's aggression

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Tokyo revealed it is considering a huge increase to its defence capabilities as it accused China of pushing territorial claims amid growing tensions in the region. The East Asia nation released its annual defence review, where said Beijing has been pushing its territorial claims amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation said it suspected China of spreading propaganda and disinformation as it provides medical aid to nations fighting COVID-19.

In a defence white paper approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, Japan said China “is continuing to attempt to alter the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea”.

The white paper said: “Japan must strengthen its defence capability at speeds that are fundamentally different from the past.

“China has relentlessly continued unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion in the sea area around the Senkaku islands, leading to a grave matter of concern.”

The white paper described “relentless” intrusions in waters around a group of islets claimed by both nations in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

In the South China Sea, Japan said Beijing was asserting territorial claims by establishing administrative districts around disputed islands, that forced countries distracted by the coronavirus outbreak to respond.

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Such disinformation included online claims that the coronavirus was brought to China by a US military member, or that Chinese herbal remedies could treat COVID-19, a defence ministry official said at a briefing.

Other threats faced by Japan include North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as well as a resurgence of military activity by Russia in the skies and waters in Japan, at times in joint drills with China, the defence review said.

China and Japan have historically had a difficult relationship.

However, in 2018, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to deepen cooperation.

Mr Abe said: “As major economic powers of the region, China and Japan should take the responsibility to play constructive roles in safeguarding peace, stability, development and prosperity of the region and the world.”

The two met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

 

Japan’s attack against China echoes similar criticisms made by the US and comes as tension in the region increases as Beijing and Washington conduct separate military drills in the resource-rich South China Sea and as relations between the world’s two largest economies deteriorated.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday rejected China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, saying they were “completely unlawful”.

Beijing insists its intentions in the waterway, through which around $3trillion of global trade passes each year, are peaceful.



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