South China sea conflict SPREADS as Japan calls out Beijing ‘coercion’ in Senkaku Islands

South China Sea: Military exercises ‘must continue’ says expert

Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi spoke over video link with Chinese State Councilor and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe after four Chinese vessels entered the waters near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. He highlighted Tokyo’s concerns about China’s attempts to “unilaterally change the status quo by coercion”.

Mr Kishi called on the Chinese minister to “dispel international community’s concern by improving transparency over China’s defence policy and its military power”.

An official statement issued by the Japanese Defence Ministry confirmed that the two officials had addressed the current issues in the contested region.

It also made clear Japan’s claims of ownership over the Senkaku Islands.

The statement read: “The two Ministers exchanged views on Japan-China relationship and the regional security issues.

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“In light of the situation in the East China Sea, including the waters around the Senkaku Islands, which are an inherent part of the territory of Japan, Minister Kishi firmly delivered Japan’s position over the Senkaku Islands.”

The Japanese official also stressed Tokyo’s stance on the South China Sea dispute, highlighting Japan’s support for the rule of law and self-restraint.

The statement added: “Furthermore, Minister Kishi urged China to dispel the international community’s concern by improving transparency over China’s defence policy and its military power.”

China has ramped up its maritime presence in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea in recent months, leading to tensions with neighbouring nations.

Mr Kishi and Mr Wei’s communication concluded with both officials confirming they will continue the talks.

They acknowledged the importance of stable and peaceful relations between the two nations, as well as in the international community, according to the Japanese Defence Ministry.

Last month it emerged Japan had designed a new series of fighter jets, at a cost of nearly $10billion (£7.5billion) in a bid to face China’s increasing military advances.

The new jets are hoped to replace Japan’s fleet of F-2s when they retire in 2035.

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It is hoped a prototype of the new aircraft will be manufactured by 2024.

Earlier this year China announced its second aircraft carrier, the 50,000-tonne Shandong, is now combat ready.

As part of Japan’s annual “autumn review” of military expenditure, Taro Kono, the Minister of Administrative Reform, said Tokyo would prioritise its “policy of manufacturing next-generation fighters”.

Mr Kono added: “We must make a bold and comprehensive assessment of the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defence Forces.”

Japanese news website Sankei Shimbun revealed Japan currently owns 309 fighter jets versus 1,080 for China.

But Tokyo formats policy in the expectation it will have allies, significantly the United States, in any issues with China.

The cost of the new fighter scheme is estimated to be JP¥1 trillion (£7.24billion).

Liberty Times, a Japanese news outlet, reported the new jets will be used to “prevent emergencies” in the Taiwan Strait.

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