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228 words - July 10, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
On July 9, the Ministry of Defense of Japan has published its Annual White Paper (AWP - 2013). Describing the "security environment surrounding Japan" as "becoming increasingly harsh," Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in the AWP's foreword listed North Korea (DPRK)'s satellite and nuclear tests, and "the rapid expansion and intensification of activities by China in the waters and airspace around Japan," as the most serious challenges to Japan's security. As a result, Mr. Itsunori explained, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "has decided to increase the defense-related budget practically for the first time in 11 years to strengthen (Japan's) defense posture."
By playing up the China threat, a state news agency (Xinhua) commentator wrote, Japan runs risk of playing with fire. After "taking pride in the atrocities" committed by Japan during World War II, the increase in Japan's defense budget translated Mr. Abe's attempt to "cater to rightists at home" ahead of the upcoming elections in the Senate, the Chinese reporter said. The South Korean government (ROK) also protested that "the Japanese government re-included unjust territorial claims to Dodko. "Japan's incorrect view of history deserves to be solemnly criticized," ROK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated. All this will unlikely ease ongoing tensions in the region whose stagnant economic growth could further fuel nationalist rhetoric from all sides.
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