apan is facing a more challenging security situation because of China’s increasing naval activity as well as North Korea’s missile and nuclear development, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said yesterday.
“The security situation surrounding Japan is becoming more severe, seen in concerns over North Korea’s missile and nuclear arms development and in China’s increasing naval activity along with its military modernization,” Kan said at an inspection parade of troops in suburban Tokyo.
“The Self-Defense Forces need to be poised to deal with various situations effectively,” Kan said, using the official name of the -Japanese troops.
The comments come at a time of increased tension with China over disputed islands and Beijing’s increased military activities in the region, and following a report that North Korea may be preparing for a third nuclear test.
Kan also stressed the importance of strengthening the 50-year-old alliance with the US, saying: “I’d like to deepen the alliance into an appropriate form for the 21st century.”
He attended the parade for the first time as the prime minister of the government led by the center-left Democratic Party of Japan, which ousted the -previous -conservative government last year.
Ties between Tokyo and Beijing were badly strained after Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea last month, sparking a barrage of protests from Beijing.
The Chinese navy has increasingly been deployed to areas near Japanese territorial waters in a show of force by the rapidly developing Asian giant.
In a tense incident in April this year, a large Chinese flotilla ventured near a group of Japanese islands in the East China Sea and sent out a helicopter that buzzed Japanese navy ships monitoring their movement.
Beijing’s increased assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea, has caused jitters among other neighboring nations as well as the US, which is also at odds with China over trade and currency issues.
Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s -biggest-selling newspaper, reported on Thursday that North Korea appeared to be preparing for a third nuclear test, citing an unidentified government source.
South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said on Friday the chances of another nuclear test by North Korea could not be ruled out, although the likelihood was low.
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