Face-Off Over Disputed Islands
The London Telegraph
Japanese and Chinese fighter jets faced off close to a disputed island chain, amid claims Tokyo is considering raising its military budget for the first time in a decade.
The first confrontation between fighter jets, deployed from the two countries on Thursday, was a dramatic escalation of the competing claims laid by both nations.
Until now, the Chinese have mostly used civilian ships and planes to conduct patrols of the islands.
"Thanks to Japan's arrogance toward China, the Diaoyu Islands dispute has come to this point," wrote the nationalistic Global Times newspaper in Beijing. "Japanese politicians, including Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara and former prime minister Yoshihiko Noda, are to blame."
Japan's hawkish new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, took aim at China on Friday, accusing Beijing of deliberately allowing Japanese businesses to be targeted in the ongoing row.
"For political ends, harming Japanese companies and individuals in China that contribute to the Chinese economy and society - I want to say it is wrong for a responsible nation state in the international community. It not only harms bilateral relations, it has a significantly negative influence on China's economy and its society," he said.
Last September, violent riots across China saw Japanese stores, restaurants, factories and cars attacked. One Japanese government estimate suggests more than $100 million (£62 million) of damage was done.
"Regarding Senkaku, there is no change to my position to resolutely protect this water and territory. There is no room for negotiation on this," Mr Abe added yesterday.
The Asahi Shimbun reported that Japan may created a team of 400 officers on 12 patrol ships specifically to guard the islands. China, meanwhile, has reportedly moved both ships and aircraft to southern bases closer to the islands.
The latest budget request from Japan's Defence Force is made up of 4.63 trillion yen (£28 billion), but an unspecified rise in the number of soldiers and fuel and the maintenance cost of an increased use of surveillance planes will likely exceed 100 billion yen.
"A year ago, Japanese politicians would not have thought that China would send fighter jets. How far the Diaoyu crisis goes depends on whether Japan is just putting on a show or it really wants to confront China. If it chooses the latter, then it is choosing a military clash," the Global Times warned.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/11/2013
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