China’s Military Buildup Worrisome, Japan’s U.S. Ambassador Says

China’s “spectacularly active” naval posture and “massive” military buildup in Asia are part of a pattern of belligerent behavior toward Japan and other neighbors over maritime disputes, according to Japan’s ambassador to the U.S.

Speaking at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington yesterday, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae described China’s increasingly frequent forays to lodge territorial claims in the resource-rich East and South China Seas as “harassing” and “provocative.”

Japan is urging the Chinese government to “restrain yourself,” said Sasae, who served as deputy foreign minister until last year.

The world’s second- and third-largest economies have protested the presence of each other’s vessels in waters around a disputed East China Sea island chain — known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China — in a region rich in oil, natural gas and fish.

Asked what his country might do to break the deadlock, Sasae said that while Japan is “cautiously trying” to find a way out of the standoff, “we are not going to accommodate” the Chinese position that the islands belong to them.

China Assertive

China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, encountering opposition from Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, among other nations, as it tries to lock up resources to meet its demands as the world’s largest energy consumer.

Asked if there is something the U.S. might do to help mediate the conflict, Sasae said yesterday that the dispute is one that China and Japan need to resolve.

Seventh Fleet

In the past year, China has stepped up its incursions into Japanese waters and taken effective control of a land feature near the Philippines. For more than half a century, Japan and the Philippines have relied on the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet to deter aggression in Asia-Pacific region waters.

Sasae, referring to a debate within his country about increasing Japan’s defense spending, said that view is fueled by an “age of military buildup” in Asia. “We are not changing the policy overnight,” he said, calling discussions about Japan’s defense posture “a more gradual and benign process.”

Natural Resources

While Japan welcomes the economic rise of China and believes its giant neighbor’s boom should be a “win/win situation” for everyone, “there is a concern” about China’s exploitation of natural resources around the world, he said.

Full article: China’s Military Buildup Worrisome, Japan’s U.S. Ambassador Says (Bloomberg)

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