China's defence ministry today unveiled a report today calling for international vigilance over Japan's plans to beef up military security, as also the possible acquisition of the ability to hit enemy bases.
Japan's proposal, a departure from the constraints of its pacifist constitution, comes as part of a defence policy review by prime minister Shinzo Abe's government, which released an interim report on the issue yesterday. Final review conclusions would come up by the year-end.
Japan's ministry of defence said it would consider acquiring unmanned surveillance drones, build a force of marines to secure remote islands, including those disputed with China, and also boost the capability of troop transportation to far-flung isles.
"The sections about China in this report by Japan are playing on the same old themes, exaggerating the military threat from China, and have ulterior motives," China's defence ministry said in a statement on its website.
"This year, Japan has come up with all kinds of excuses to continue to expand its armaments ... creating tensions in the region. These moves deserve the highest vigilance from neighboring countries in Asia and from the international community," it said.
Abe, who is known for his hawkish stance on territorial and security matters, took office in December for a rare second term. He had pledged to ratchet military spending to cope with what Japan saw as an increasingly threatening security environment, including an assertive China and an unpredictable North Korea.
Abe, who is on a visit to the Philippines, told president Benigno Aquino III during talks in Manila today that Japan would provide 10 cutters for its coast guard to help counter recent maritime advances by China.
The vessels would be provided under the government's official development assistance programme.
Keeping in view China' actions in the region, the two leaders agreed on boosting cooperation between the defence authorities and coast guards of their respective nations.
Speaking at a joint news conference following the meeting, Abe said, "We will strengthen our relationship as partners who share many strategic interests."
Aquino hailed the Japanese initiative as a major pillar of the strategic partnership.
He pledged to maintain international rule of law and to resolve territorial disputes and maritime issues in a fair and peaceful manner.
The Philippines and China are locked in a territorial dispute over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which China calls Huangyan Island. Philipines on its part, has submitted a request for arbitration to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which has not met with any response from China.