Japan defense papers raises concerns about China, NKorea

TOKYO (AP) — Japan has called North Korea’s nuclear and missile development a “grave and imminent threat” to the region and international security, and criticized China’s increasingly assertive military action in its annual defense report.

The report, approved Tuesday by the Cabinet, comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government pushes for Japan to take on greater military roles abroad.

It cited North Korea’s technological advances in recent nuclear tests and says Pyongyang might have achieved the capability to miniaturize atomic weapons and develop warheads.

The report called China’s reclamation moves in the South China Sea a provocation, and urged Beijing to accept a recent international arbitration ruling. It said China’s escalating activity in the East China Sea caused Japan to scramble against Chinese warplanes more than 570 times last year.