China says Japan's missile system may trigger arms race


Thu, Sep 04, 2003 - Page 5

China told Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba yesterday that Tokyo's planned missile system could tilt the military balance in the region and trigger an arms race, a Japanese official said.

Many Chinese are suspicious about Japan, given its militarist past. Japan occupied parts of China from 1931 to 1945, during which time the two sides fought an eight-year war.

Ishiba is visiting Beijing to try to alleviate Beijing's concerns over Japanese efforts to boost its defense capabilities.

"On the issue of missile defense, Ishiba said the Chinese side stated there was a danger of changing the [military] balance and also the danger of [an] arms race," the official said after Ishiba met his Chinese counterpart, Cao Gangchuan, in Beijing.

The official declined to give further details.

Japan's Defense Ministry last month requested over US$1 billion in funding for a US-made missile defense system to protect the country from any North Korean missile attack.

Japan has conducted joint research with Washington on developing a missile defense system since Pyongyang test-fired a missile over Japan in 1998.