Japan warns over China's military rise
Japan unveiled a sweeping update of its national defence polices on Friday, aiming for greater flexibility and refocusing its capabilities as it confronts China's military buildup and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Kiyoshi Takenaka reports.world Updated: Dec 18, 2010 02:26 IST
Japan unveiled a sweeping update of its national defence polices on Friday, aiming for greater flexibility and refocusing its capabilities as it confronts China's military buildup and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The National Defense Programme Guideline approved by Prime Minister Naoto Kan's cabinet stopped short of easing a ban on arms exports - a move opposed by a small pacifist party whose help Kan wants to pass bills in a divided parliament - but it left the door open to international joint development.
The plan will bolster Japan's defense posture to its southwest, where it shares a maritime border with China, by boosting the number of combat aircraft on the southern island of Okinawa and stationing troops on smaller islands.
The policy update is the first major revision in six years and the first under Kan's Democratic Party, which swept to power last year for the first time.
Japan's military, which is bigger than Britain's, has for years been pushing the limits of a post-World War Two pacifist constitution. But any sign Japan is further flexing its military muscle could upset Asian neighbours including China, where bitter memories of Japan's wartime aggression run deep.
It also dubbed North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes "a present and grave destabilizing factor to the security of our country and the region".