China-Japan Tensions Rise In East China Sea
January 11, 2013
Japan scrambles jets to Diaoyu Islands
Japan scrambled fighter jets yesterday to head off a number of Chinese military planes near the Diaoyu Islands, on the same day that China pledged to guard its maritime rights from being violated by Japan and two other countries.
The Chinese planes were spotted on Japanese military radar north of the islands, the Fuji TV network reported, quoting Japanese government officials.
They did not “violate territorial airspace” but flew inside Japan’s “air defense identification zone,” the report said.
The Japanese defense ministry press office did not confirm the report.
The Chinese planes were gone by the time F-15 jet fighters from an airbase on Okinawa reached the area, the report said.
Chinese ships and planes have been seen off the islands many times since September when Japan is said to have bought them from a so-called private owner.
On Wednesday, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper said the number of Chinese military planes nearing Japanese territory had increased since September.
The paper said Japan’s air force had scrambled fighter jets to intercept Chinese military aircraft numerous times over the past few months. Japanses defense officials said they could not confirm the report.
F-15s were sent to head off Chinese state-owned – but not military – planes four times in December, including an occasion when “Japanese airspace” was breached, the defense ministry has said. They were also mobilized once last week, it said.
Meanwhile, Japan is today expected to approve a huge stimulus package aimed at breathing life into its flagging economy.
Around 180 billion yen (US$2.1 billion) of the total 20 trillion yen set to be announced is expected to be allocated to military spending.
A defense ministry spokesman said the cash would be used to buy missiles, helicopters and to refurbish fighter jets.
Yesterday, China said it would “steadfastly” oppose any infringement on the country’s sovereignty over territorial waters by Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The country will continue regular patrols over its territorial waters off the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea, Liu Caigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration, told a national maritime conference.
“Faced with a sharper and more complicated situation, we will take more responsibilities to steadfastly maintain the country’s maritime rights and interests,” Liu said.
January 12, 2013
Japanese jets ‘disturb routine island patrols’
By Zhang Yunbi and Zhao Shengnan
The Defense Ministry on Friday criticized Japanese fighter jets that disturbed routine patrols by Chinese aircraft over the East China Sea amid lingering tensions over the Diaoyu Islands.
Tokyo also ramped up its hardline stance as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday there was “no room for negotiation” on the row.
Analysts said Tokyo is now keen to test Beijing’s bottom line by flaring up military confrontation, and to seek more bargaining chips for future talks.
China’s Ministry of National Defense said on Friday China sent two J-10 fighters to the East China Sea after a Y-8 transport aircraft was closely followed by two Japanese F-15 fighters when patrolling the East China Sea on Thursday.
Japan’s military aircraft have been “increasingly” active in closely scouting Chinese aircraft and have expanded their activity zone, which the ministry said is the root reason for bilateral security disputes on the sea and in the sky.
Cao Weidong, a researcher at the Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said Tokyo’s decision to take the initiative to dispatch F-15 fighter jets is a risky move that is “increasing the possibility of a drastic escalation.
“Sending military aircraft to a disputed area is viewed as a provocation, and Beijing was forced to respond for defensive purposes,” Cao said.
Bilateral relations, including trade, have suffered since Tokyo’s illegal “purchase” of China’s Diaoyu Islands in September and masses of Chinese took to the streets to protest the move.
Tokyo has ramped up approaches to intimidate regular patrols around the islands by Chinese Marine Surveillance ships.
Tension over the East China Sea was fueled in December when eight Japanese F-15 fight jets attempted to hold down a Chinese aircraft, which was on a routine patrol.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe on Friday claimed that China has deliberately targeted Japanese companies as part of a strategy to confront Japan over the countries’ territorial row.
Gao Hong, an expert on Japanese studies from the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing has not resorted to economic sanctions, but Tokyo is eager to “find a scapegoat”
when explaining to Japanese entrepreneurs who have suffered a lot in China.
“Japan’s provocation gave rise to the Chinese public’s spontaneous boycott, and public opinion deserves respect,” Gao said.
Gao said Abe’s tough words of “no room” for territorial negotiation are to test Beijing’s bottom line.
“And his hostility against China is intended to polish his image and gain more domestic support,” Gao said.
Takehiko Yamamoto, a professor at Waseda University in Japan, told AFP that “perhaps the undercurrent of the message was that China is a necessary partner for Japan’s growth strategy to climb out of deflation”.
In addition to his vow of no change in his position to resolutely “protect the water and territory”, Abe also reiterated on Friday that he wants to improve Japan-China ties on the basis of “strategic mutually beneficial relations”.
Abe had posed as a hardliner on disputes before his landslide election victory in December, yet after retaking the premiership, he also mentioned “strategic mutually beneficial relations” several times.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan has pushed bilateral relations into a difficult situation, and it should “show sincerity, face up to reality” and work with China for a proper resolution.