Sunday, January 01, 2006

Japan Steps Up Defence of Remote Isles

Japan is sending troops to train with US forces and is developing new torpedos to boost the defence of remote islands, including some disputed isles in case China tries to take them over. The report comes after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said this month that China’s military build-up was a threat given its lack of transparency, triggering an angry retort from Beijing, which said his comments were “highly irresponsible”.
As part of efforts to strengthen its ability to defend remote islands, Japan will send some 125 Japanese ground troops to San Diego, California from Jan. 9-27 for joint training with US Marines, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said. The troops will take part in reconnaissance training such as learning how to land on potentially-occupied remote islands and gather information, the paper said. The aim is to strengthen Japan’s ability to defend remote southern isles such as the disputed islands known as the Diaoyus in China and the Senkakus in Japan, the newspaper said. “The Defence Ministry and the Self-Defence Force will strengthen their posture for defending (isles such as) the Senkaku Islands in the event of an invasion by the Chinese military,” the Nihon Keizai newspaper said. Defence Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment. To guard against submarines, Japan’s navy plans to make improvements to short-range torpedoes on ships and helicopters to make them better suited to shallow waters, the newspaper said. Relations between Japan and China have been frayed by a number of disputes, mostly relating to Japan’s invasion and occupation of parts of China from 1931 to 1945.