China accuses Japan of ’empire-building’

BBC News In an address to Japanese political leaders, Mr Kishida says “Japan no longer has the luxury of excusing its role” in the region. He hopes it will now have “more decisive and…

China accuses Japan of 'empire-building'

BBC News

In an address to Japanese political leaders, Mr Kishida says “Japan no longer has the luxury of excusing its role” in the region.

He hopes it will now have “more decisive and forceful steps” in military affairs.

Japan’s foreign minister has accused China of “empire-building” after a Japanese cabinet meeting.

Seiji Maehara, writing in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, said the country’s deterrent capability should be “strengthened”.

He wrote that Tokyo’s role in the Asia-Pacific region would “no longer be viewed as a defence operation but a pre-emptive policy”.

Mr Maehara’s comments come just days after China accused Japan of playing the “pretext” of denying Beijing’s claims to resources in the East China Sea.

In his article, Mr Maehara writes that Japan, Australia and the US will form a “pact of shared security” with the other nine members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) as the “Asian Century turns into the Pacific Century”.

Japan is facing questions about its military capabilities as it approaches a debate over the legality of exercising Article 9 of its constitution.

Under the Japanese constitution, which dates back to the end of World War II, the pacifist principle of “sacred peace” has been set out in a clause that says Japan cannot fight for other countries.

Article 9 – the only that remains in the so-called “Shinto-colonialist” constitution – reads: “Japan has no right to intervene in cases where aggression is imminent or serious.”

Most Japanese politicians, however, are urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call a referendum on whether Japanese troops should go to war against China – a move that could be a major challenge to Japanese citizens’ pacifist traditions.

Writing in the New York Times, Democratic Party leader Chizuo Matsumoto called for an end to Article 9 – and vowed to topple Mr Abe if he does not do so.

“Abe might say that Japan, as the only country that survived World War II, cannot and should not wage war again,” Mr Matsumoto wrote.

“His decision could come as the price of stability in East Asia.”

Separately, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping by phone on Sunday to underline Japan’s opposition to China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The three leaders agreed that “no claimant can and should take advantage of the status quo”.

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