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Japanese Defense Chief Says Military Growth Of China A Threat

Chinese PLA soldiers. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Sep 27, 2006
Japan's new defense chief Fumio Kyuma was quoted saying Wednesday that China's growing military spending posed a threat to Japan, taking a stance that has angered Beijing in the past. His remarks, one day after being named to the post, came on the heels of a pledge by new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to try to improve relations with China that had soured under his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi.

In an interview with the Jiji Press news agency, Kyuma called China's military expenditures "a threat to some extent."

"No matter how much Japan spends on defense, it would not be able to compete if they have so much in nuclear arms and missiles," he said.

"But they can't attack Japan because we have the national security alliance with the United States," he said. "This security treaty (with the United States) is important."

Japan has repeatedly expressed concern about China's military buildup, although recent official documents have avoided the word "threat."

Beijing has boosted defense spending more than 10 percent annually for 18 consecutive years, according to an annual Japanese report released earlier this year.

The diplomatic push with China comes despite Abe's reputation as an outspoken hawk.

Abe caused a furor in July, when as chief government spokesman he suggested that Japan should consider a theoretical pre-emptive attack on North Korea if there were a direct threat.

His comments came after the communist state test-launched seven missiles in Japan's direction.

But Kyuma said it was too early to talk of a policy on pre-emptive strikes.

"It's not time yet for the government to decide on a policy on pre-emptive attack capability," Kyuma was quoted saying.

"It would send the wrong message to the Japanese public that missiles only target Japan."

The North Korean ballistic missiles in July "also had South Korea in range," Kyuma said.

"Japan has focused on having a shield and left the role of the pike to the US military forces based on the security treaty," he said.

Kyuma, who took office with Abe on Tuesday, served as the head of the Defense Agency in the late 1990s.

He stands to become Japan's first full-fledged defense minister since World War II under Abe's proposals to shed some of the legacies of pacifism imposed on the country after its defeat.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Abe Ready To Go To China
Tokyo (AFP) Sep 27, 2006
Japan said Wednesday its new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could visit China as soon as next month to repair damaged bilateral ties as he knuckled down to work on his conservative agenda. Abe, Japan's first premier born after World War II, is known for his nationalist views but has vowed to mend relations with China and South Korea, which were enraged by his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a war shrine.

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