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21 Dec, 2013 13:45

China outraged as Japan revamps defense plan

China outraged as Japan revamps defense plan

China's Defense Ministry on Friday issued a strongly worded statement criticizing Japan’s plans to increase defense spending, accusing Tokyo of turning up the temperature on regional tensions.

Amid ongoing territorial tensions between Beijing and Tokyo in the East China Sea, Japan this week announced a five-year defense plan that has attracted an uncharacteristically outspoken response from China.

China "resolutely opposes" the five-year defense plan adopted by Japan on Tuesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

Tokyo is attempting to sell a so-called "proactive pacifism" under the pretext of safeguarding national security, Geng said.

Japan "continues to deny its history of World War II aggression, challenge the post-war order, and harm the feelings of the people of those victimized nations," he said.

"We urge Japan to reflect deeply on its history, strictly adhere to its commitment to peaceful development, and take concrete measures to improve relations with its neighbors to play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and development," Geng said.

Under the plan adopted Tuesday, Japan will boost defense spending by 5 percent over the next five years to purchase new military hardware, including its first surveillance drones, US-made F-35 stealth fighters and Aegis combat systems.

A soldier from Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force helps to prepare surface-to-ship missile launchers at Camp Naha in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture (AFP Photo / Toru Yamanaka)

The statement hinted at China’s concern over Japan’s military relationship with the United States, which has recently shifted the weight of its military apparatus to Asia.

Japan is making an effort to ensure the security and prosperity of the international community, but at the same time it is clinging to a Cold War mentality and beefing up its military alliance with relevant countries, he said.

Last year, US President Barack Obama made a speech to the Australian parliament where he said: “As a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.”

China’s obvious discomfort over Japan’s military buildup is just the latest source of tension between the two Asian powers. Beijing and Tokyo are also at loggerheads over an uninhabited chain of islands in the East China Sea – referred to as the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China.

After the Japanese government bought three of the eight islands from a private owner in September 2012, violent protests erupted in several Chinese cities. Since then, Chinese naval vessels have routinely confronted Japanese ships in the area, raising fears of an incident.

Late last month, China warned that all aircraft entering a vast area over the East China Sea should identify themselves and follow China's instructions.