Abe vows to boost Japan defence amid ‘provocations’.
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday vowed to beef up his country’s defence capability amid a blistering row with China, saying he would deal firmly with any “provocations”.
Abe, the commander-in-chief of Japan’s well-equipped armed forces, told 180 senior uniformed officers he would not bury his head in the sand.
“We can’t avert our eyes from the reality… (that there has been) a flurry of provocations against our country’s sovereignty,” he told troops in an apparent reference to tensions with China over disputed islands.
“I’m pushing for the regeneration of our country’s security by looking squarely at reality,” the premier said, without elaboration.
Tokyo and Beijing have repeatedly butted heads over the ownership of the Japan-controlled Senkakus, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus, with official Chinese ships and aircraft regularly testing Japanese forces.
Abe, who had reviewed a guard of honour with defence minister Itsunori Onodera, has long agitated for a more muscular military, and has spoken openly of his desire to reinterpret rules governing its deployment to allow it to play a more active role in any possible conflict.
The prime minister, whose defence ministry is looking for its biggest budget bump in two decades, told troops he planned to form a national security council that will integrate government functions analysing intelligence on defence and diplomacy.