Japan intends to enhance its air and sea military presence in the southwest and part of western Pacific, where China is increasingly active, according to defence minister Satoshi Moritomo.
“Japan has 6,800 islands, and territory that stretches over 3,300 kilometres [2,000 miles]; it’s necessary to have troops at its southwestern end to beef up our warning and surveillance capability,” Moritomo said.
In his first interview after taking office this month, Moritomo told the Wall Street Journal that Japan “has to defend without fail” its sovereign rights and land, including the Senkaku islands, a territory that is at the center of a bitter dispute with China.
The minister said that the Senkaku dispute is “China’s unilateral, coercive and naked intention to expand its maritime rule.”
He reminded that Japan’s alliance with the United States plays an extremely important role in promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Moritomo admitted that frictions with China are inevitable as the national interests differ, but should be eventually worked out.
It’s “extremely important” that Japan and China improve mutual cooperation and understanding, and play their respective roles “to stabilize the maritime environment in this region,” he added.