Japan defense report raises China, North Korea concerns

TOKYO (AP) — Japan 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 as dangerous in an annual defense report approved Tuesday by the Cabinet.

Key points in this year’s 484-page report:

NORTH KOREA: The report notes that Pyongyang may have achieved the capability to miniaturize atomic weapons for warheads, as well as acquired a missile capable of reaching as far as 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles). “North Korea’s military activity has increased tensions on the Korean peninsula, and become a grave and imminent threat not only to Japan but also to the security in the region and the international society.”


CHINA: Rapidly expanding and assertive maritime and air activity and a lack of transparency in China’s military buildup have destabilized the military balance in the region. Some of China’s moves over conflicting maritime claims are “dangerous actions that could trigger unanticipated situations. … They raise strong concern about what may happen in the future.”


SOUTH CHINA SEA: China’s land reclamation and construction in the South China Sea are a provocation. China has been pushing to use the reclaimed islands for military purposes, while continuing to expand toward the Indian Ocean. Beijing should accept a recent international arbitration ruling aimed at settling its maritime disputes with the Philippines.


EAST CHINA SEA: China has stepped up activity around Japanese-controlled islands that both claim, the report says, noting that a Chinese warship entered water just outside Japanese-claimed waters in the area. Increasing activity in the East China Sea also prompted Japan to scramble against Chinese warplanes more than 570 times last year. Japan calls the disputed islands the Senkaku, while China calls them the Diaoyu.


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